Wakefield’s Sure Start centres facing funding cuts

Maypole childrens centre annual community barbecue.'Olivia Perry and Dale Taylor-Burnley
Maypole childrens centre annual community barbecue.'Olivia Perry and Dale Taylor-Burnley

Funding for children’s centres in the district has been slashed by almost half, despite more families needing help as poverty rises, figures show.

Wakefield Council’s budget for Sure Start Centres and early intervention programmes for struggling families has been slashed by 45 per cent since May 2010.

The centres offer a range of services for families, from pregnancy to children attending primary school.

Figures from the House of Commons Library show the cut to Wakefield’s Sure Start budget was higher than the average of 41 per cent for UK councils.

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh said services for district families would be under further pressure after the council faces a further round of funding cuts from April.

Cuts to benefits, including the government’s “bedroom tax”, which slashes housing benefit for social housing tenants with a spare room, are also expected to increase demand for support services for families with children.

Ms Creagh said: “Parents are rightly worried about the future of the children’s services they rely on.”

Wakefield Council said some of its early intervention programmes had been scaled down, and others de-commissioned altogether because of the funding cuts.

Kim Curry, interim service director for strategy and commissioning, said: “Despite this, the council has continued to support 23 local children’s centres, as well as commissioning early intervention support from a number of voluntary and community sector partners.

“In line with national trends we are seeing an increase in children, young people and families with problems that require statutory level intervention.”

She added: “Since 2010, Wakefield Council has seen a significant reduction in the allocation provided by central government for Sure Start and early intervention programmes.

“However, with our partners in the local Children and Young People’s Partnership, we remain committed to the principle of providing effective support in a timely manner.”