Call to tell truth over the children’s centres
A Tell Us The Truth campaign has been launched by Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for South Swindon, Anne Snelgrove, who believes services at children’s centres will be drastically reduced following funding cuts.
In September, Swindon Council approved plans for a second round of cuts to the 14 centres across the borough, bringing the total to £380,000 leaving the budget for 2014/15 at £2,098,500.
Money from the authority is going to be steered towards the most vulnerable families, with 80 per cent of the funding being aimed at this group.
It was also agreed that four buildings – Greenmeadow, Saplings, Eldene and Croft should no longer be run as children’s centres. But they will still provide care for children aged between two and four compared to the under five age group that the children’s centres previously catered for. Anne is to meet parents in Novem-ber to hear their views on the plans.
“They really need to tell parents the truth about what is happening at these centres,” she said.
“How they can say they are going to run these centres on 20 per cent of the budget and say they are going to offer most families the same service – I don’t buy it. They are closing four of the centres, they say they are keeping them open.
“But I say families will receive a drastically reduced service.”
She said directing the funding towards the most vulnerable families will stigmatise the service, which she fears will alienate parents.
Council leader David Renard said there would still be a universal service for parents.
“In the four buildings which will no longer be designated children’s centres the same programmes will still be running,” he said.
“The reality is, we commission the head of the centres who decide what the local population need the most and they run their local service according to the demand.”
He said the changes were important to ensure the most vulnerable people in the borough were being cared for.
National charity 4Children has published its Children’s Centre Census 2013 this week which reveals 73 per of children’s centres report an increase in families who have used their services over the past 12 months. And 66 per cent are operating on a decreased budget compared to the previous year.
A meeting will take place at The Pilgrim Centre, in Regent Street on November 18. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.