Tag Archives: Guildford

Guildford election battle lines drawn on NHS


22 October 2014 – for immediate release

NHS debated by Labour’s Richard Wilson and Guildford’s Conservative MP

Letters exchanged between two contenders to be Guildford’s MP next May reveal that the NHS will be the key battleground in the general election.

In August, Labour’s parliamentary candidate, airline pilot Richard Wilson, wrote to the current MP, Conservative Anne Milton, to ask her to clarify how her position on the NHS has changed since being elected. He asked her to vote for the NHS private members bill being tabled by Labour’s Clive Efford MP on 21 November to reverse some of the Coalition Government’s privatisation of the NHS.

Ms Milton replied to say she would consider the bill “in detail” before the debate. Since then, a senior cabinet minister has told the press that the Conservative-LibDem top-down reorganisation of the NHS was the government’s “biggest mistake”. On 20 October, Richard Wilson wrote again to request that Ms Milton tell the people of Guildford where she stands on the NHS.

Richard Wilson said, “David Cameron’s MPs were elected on a pledge to avoid top-down reorganisations of the NHS. Voters deserve to know if their MP agrees with cabinet ministers that breaking this pledge was a terrible mistake. I have asked Anne Milton whether she is in favour of restoring the 48-hour guarantee for a GP appointment and ensuring cancer tests and results are available to patients within one week. From speaking to many NHS staff and patients recently, it is clear to me that voters in Guildford place the NHS high on their list of priorities when deciding how to vote next May.”

ENDS

Note 1: Letter from Richard Wilson to Anne Milton 16 August

Note 2: Letter from Anne Milton to Richard Wilson 22 August

Note 3: Letter from Richard Wilson to Anne Milton 20 October

Photo – Richard Wilson meeting midwives outside Royal Surrey County Hospital during their 4-hour strike last week: 2014-10-13 07.57.09

Labour’s Richard Wilson supports campaign to make voices of people with a learning disability heard in general election


Press release 10 October 2014 – for immediate release

Labour’s Richard Wilson supports campaign to make voices of people with a learning disability heard in general election

Today, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Guildford, Richard Wilson, has signed up his support for Mencap’s Hear my voice campaign.

The new campaign is about empowering people with a learning disability and their families to have their voices heard by their local MPs and candidates in the lead up to the May 2015 General Election.

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK but many feel they are not listened to by those in power and the issues they that are important to them – like hate crime, better healthcare and education – are often not talked about.

Richard Wilson said:
“People with a learning disability and their families are as much a part of our society as anyone else and deserve to have their voices heard on the issues that matter to them. I am listening and I hope that many more MPs and potential candidates will do the same by getting on board with Mencap’s Hear my voice campaign.”

Richard wrote the following on the Hear my voice website:
“I am listening because I believe it is a fundamental human instinct to take responsibility for each other and care for the vulnerable as a society. I believe this instinct is more powerful than the instinct to grab what we can for ourselves. This is why I am in politics. I want to fight for the most vulnerable and to persuade everyone else that this is the right thing to do for our society. It is morally right but also the instinct to take responsibility for each other is what defines our humanity.”

Richard Wilson is the latest to confirm his support for the campaign and joins a host of other MPs and future candidates who have signed-up to say they are listening to the voices of people with a learning disability on the new Hear my voice website: www.hear-my-voice-org-uk

Through the website, people with a learning disability and their families have a space to share their experiences with their local MP and, in return, MPs and candidates can show their support by signing-up to say they are listening.

Jan Tregelles, Mencap’s chief executive, said:
“It is encouraging to see so many MPs listening to people with a learning disability and their families about the problems they face and the change they want to see in the next Parliament. They are the experts in what matters to them, so prospective candidates should be listening to what they have to say when they are out on the campaign trail.”

Lord Brian Rix, Mencap President, said:
“There are 1.4 million people in the UK with a learning disability and 6 million more family members and carers connected to them. However they often tell us they feel they are not listened to by politicians and subsequently many of the challenges they face go unheard and unresolved. We are asking Members of Parliament and prospective candidates to listen to what people with a learning disability and their families have to say.”

The campaign has also given rise to a Manifesto, which explores the issues that matter most to people with a learning disability and their families and on which they want to see action from the next UK government. These include improving healthcare for people with a learning disability, ending disability hate crime and improving support in education.

Mencap Young Ambassador Aaron, who is 19-years-old, didn’t get the extra support he needed with reading and writing when he was at school. He said:
“If I’d had more support I could have got better grades and my life could be very different. I think there should be more training for teachers and people who work in schools so they recognise people who need support and understand people’s needs. I’m talking to you today because I hope you, as MPs, want to make a difference and stand up for people with as well. We want to go forwards, not backwards.”

To find out more about the Hear my voice campaign and Manifesto, visit: www.hear-my-voice.org.uk

-ENDS-

For more information, please contact Lisa Gilbert, PR Officer at Mencap, on 020 7696 6950 or lisa.gilbert@mencap.org.uk

Notes to editors

About Mencap
There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.
http://www.mencap.org.uk

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk

About Mencap’s Hear my voice campaign
People with a learning disability – and the millions of family members, carers and support workers connected to them – can make their voices heard on the issues that matter to them at the 2015 General Election.

Hear my voice is a campaign designed to provide a platform for people with a learning disability and their families to make their voices heard. There are a lot of different ways to get involved, from sharing what matters to you, to holding an event to get people with a learning disability registered to vote. Through grassroots campaigning, Hear my voice will ensure the next Government improves the lives of people with a learning disability.
http://www.hear-my-voice.org.uk

About learning disability
A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability, which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life.

People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.

Learning disability is NOT a mental illness or a learning difficulty, like dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’.

Richard Wilson’s entry on the Hear my voice website is here: https://www.hear-my-voice.org.uk/listening/mr-richard-wilson

#Lab14: Meeting Christian Aid campaigners


Date: 29 September 2014 – for immediate release
RICHARD WILSON MEETS CHRISTIAN AID CAMPAIGNERS AT LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE IN MANCHESTER
Richard Wilson, Parliamentary Candidate for Guildford, met Christian Aid campaigners at the party conference in Manchester last week and heard about the charity’s work, including its ‘manifesto’ for the 2015 general election.

Richard Wilson PPC
Richard Wilson said, “It was great to meet the Christian Aid campaigners at the party conference in Manchester last week. While at the conference I took the opportunity to hear from a range of organisations about their work to help those most in need.
“We should always remember that poverty occurs due to political decisions, in this country and around the world. British people understand this and are among the most generous donors to humanitarian causes. Like most of the voters in Guildford and Cranleigh, I support Christian Aid’s call for gender equality, real action on climate change and a clamp down on tax evasion and avoidance. Britain needs a new government which can be a global leader to protect the most vulnerable everywhere in the world.
“Christian Aid is an excellent organisation – working to tackle the root causes of poverty around the world. “
Laura Taylor, Christian Aid Head of Advocacy, said: “We were very glad to meet Richard and have the chance to discuss how best the UK can help end global poverty and tackle the climate crisis.
“Christian Aid is not party political and would never try to influence who is elected, but we know that poverty doesn’t happen by accident and that the policies that politicians choose to implement can have a huge impact on tackling poverty.
“So we are trying to influence all parties’ General Election manifestos, by publishing one of our own. Our Contract With the World’s Poor outlines the policies we’d like to see all parties adopt. The UK can help to create a world in which poorer and more vulnerable people get a fairer deal.”
“It focusses on what the next Government can do to achieve a real step change in global development, in areas such as tax and climate change. The next Government really can take a huge step towards ending aid dependency in the developing world.
“I encourage you to get involved here: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/getinvolved”
For more information please contact: Richard Wilson, 01483 511272, richard@guildfordlabour.org, Twitter: @RichardWLabour, Facebook.com/GuildfordLabour

#Lab14: Our NHS with Time to Care


This is the third in a series about the 2014 Labour Party Conference in Manchester which I recently attended.

I was there for Harry Smith

On the final morning of Conference, I made sure I had a good seat in the auditorium for 91-year old Harry Smith’s speech. As I listened to Harry in the stunned room with thousands of other Labour activists, I felt even more proud to be Labour and more determined than ever to change our country and rescue our NHS.

Harry described how his sister died horribly at the age of 10 from TB because those in poverty couldn’t afford healthcare before the NHS. That was 87 years ago. People all round me were in tears as we listened and I couldn’t stop myself shedding a few tears too.

Please watch Harry’s speech and tell David Cameron: “Keep your mitts off my NHS!”

“Don’t let your future be my history”

The lesson from Harry Smith’s speech was that without the NHS families in poverty are condemned to a barbarous world without healthcare. One of the next speakers was Catherine Atkinson, the Labour PPC for Erewash. She was accompanied on stage by Jacob, her baby. Later, Harry Smith left this message for Jacob.

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The NHS is in grave danger. A further five years of Cameron will end it. For little Jacob and all the generations to come, we need to fight to secure the future of the NHS. And yes, I shed another tear listening to Catherine’s speech.

Time to Care

After we all blew our noses, Labour’s Andy Burnham then spoke to explain how we will fund 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs. People in Guildford regularly tell me on the doorstep how they have to wait over a week for a GP appointment. It is vital that doctors, nurses, midwives and carers have time to care.

We will combine physical, mental and social care so that older people can be cared for in their own homes. Outsourced social care is delivered in 15 minute blocks, this is failing and needs to change. Looking after our mums and dads is the most important job there is but it is currently treated as the least important. By giving carers time to care, we will keep people out of hospitals and give dignity in old age.

Priorities

These extra NHS and social care staff will need to be funded. Labour’s values mean our first port of call for the money will not be hard-working families. Also, we need to eliminate the deficit to secure the economy for the future so there will be no additional borrowing for this. Instead, we will ask those most able to contribute to pay their share.

The Mansion Tax will be a fair way of funding the future of the NHS. The news website for Surrey, GetSurrey, reported on this here. Conservative MP Dominic Raab stands up for millionaires who don’t want to have an NHS for everyone. I believe that Harry Smith is right and we should save our NHS for the next generation together.

David Cameron, keep your mitts off OUR NHS!

#Lab14: Standing up for Surrey


This is the second in a series of posts about my experience of the 2014 Labour Party Conference.

One Nation, My Nation

2014-09-20 13.12.14I have lived in Surrey for many years, since about the year 2000, but I have travelled, spent time and made friends all over the United Kingdom. I grew up just outside Glasgow, I have lived in Liverpool and I go to work in London. Arriving in Manchester for the Labour conference last Saturday I felt very much at home. Everyone was friendly: at the airport, at the hotel, on the streets and at the conference itself.

2014-09-25 09.12.52The great thing about being a PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) in the Labour Party is that I can press the case for my constituents on an equal footing with all the other PPCs. I can tell Ed Miliband about the aspirations of people in Guildford. I can discuss domestic violence and policing in Surrey with Yvette Cooper. I can put the case for preserving the Green Belt directly to Roberta Blackman-Woods MP, the Shadow Minister for Planning. Labour is the One Nation party and will govern for all constituencies. I wonder if Tory Party PPCs for Sunderland, Manchester or Glasgow get access to David Cameron, I doubt it.

2014-09-22 18.08.16

From the BBC website’s live blog of the conference

What about Surrey?

People in Surrey are the same as people in the rest of the UK. They have the same fears and aspirations. They care about their neighbours, families and their future in the same way. Electorally, however, Surrey is the height of Tory-dom on Earth. The reason for this is that people have got used to voting Tory, but this can change. It is already changing.

Telling Ed directly about the aspirations of people in Surrey

Telling Ed directly about the aspirations of people in Surrey

I speak to voters on the doorstep regularly and hear about their struggle. It is the same struggle that people across the country face: insecurity, living standards squeezed, fear for the future. They don’t believe anyone is on their side. Labour under Ed Miliband understands this and only Labour can have the answers. Only Labour will intervene in energy, housing, transport markets to make them work for people instead of corporations. Only Labour will rescue the NHS. Only Labour can turn despair into hope for the next generation in Surrey.

Thank you, Conference

Looking back at the last few days, there were many high points, which I will write about over the next few days. However, the pinnacle for me was addressing the entire conference of thousands of people to stand up for Surrey’s working people, its families, its children and its pensioners. Labour is truly a party which listens to all the people of the United Kingdom and I am greatly privileged to be speaking for Guildford and the whole of Surrey at such an important forum.

Here is a clip of my speech to Conference, one of the proudest moments of my life:

 

 

 

#Lab14: Real recall with 38 Degrees


I have just returned from the 2014 Labour Party Conference in Manchester. It was stimulating, inspiring, energising and sometimes mind-blowing. This is the first in a series of posts about what I did, what I saw and what I felt when I was there. I haven’t got any particular order in mind for these posts but since the largest number of constituents contacted me about this event I thought I’d start with this…

Keeping it real

Real Recall event

This event was organised by 38 Degrees. Regular readers of this blog will know I have been involved with many 38 Degrees campaigns before, including being bundled out of a door on film by Michael Gove’s bouncer. But I digress. This event was about how the public can hold MPs to account between elections. I spend much of my life doing this so it matters greatly to me. Recall means forcing a by-election in a constituency before the normal end of a Parliament (every five years).

All three parties committed to this in their 2010 manifestos and it was in the Tory-LibDem Coalition Agreement. So why haven’t we got a right of recall yet? Well, it’s the same reason why MPs are getting a big pay rise and why chairs of council committees in Guildford interupt me when I’m trying to speak up for public opinion. MPs have the power and they don’t want to share it. David Cameron is proposing a system of recall where MPs would sit in judgement of other MPs and decide if they should be recalled. This is a predictable response from the Conservative Party, of course. They don’t want ordinary people to have any say at all. This is why this event was called, we demand a real system of recall where MPs who have betrayed their constituents can be forced, by their constituents, to stand before them again and explain themselves.

Summoned

38 Degrees don’t just put on events and expect the right people to turn up. Some of my constituents in Guildford sent me emails asking me attend. This was organised through 38 Degrees but their words and feelings were genuine. Helping people contact and lobby MPs and prospective MPs is an invaluable service. This is why I personally donate a small amount to 38 Degrees every month.

The room was packed, at 8.30am, and it was a fantastic opportunity to press the speakers on all aspects of recall.

Lisa Nandy MP

Lisa Nandy is Labour’s Shadow Minister for Civil Society. She told us that Cameron’s proposals for recall were worthless and even his own MPs, like Zac Goldsmith and David Davies, will not stand for it. Labour’s priority is to “push power outwards from Westminster”, she said, not have MPs stitching it up again in cosy committee rooms at the House of Commons.

Lisa described the potential dangers of recall if it is not legislated for carefully. She told us about a recent debate in the House of Commons about international aid. Just about the only MP in the House opposing international aid was the Conservative Philip Davies. His arguments were abhorent, about leaving the world’s poorest and most down-trodden to suffer, about refusing any human feelings of fellowship, about fear, greed and isolationism. Lisa said she felt like throwing things at his head while he was speaking. However, she said he must have the right to stand up in Parliament and say these things because some people, a small number, in this country feel that way. Recall must not hound out MPs for representing minority views.

Me asking the panel about recalling MPs who have betrayed their constituents

Me asking the panel about recalling MPs who have betrayed their constituents

Owen Jones

I’m a big fan of Owen’s and it was great to hear him speak. He answered my question about MPs who are found to have committed awful misconduct, to have betrayed the trust of the electorate, and find reasons not to do the decent thing and resign. He agreed that some do but many don’t. He said that there is a real problem with the representation for ordinary people in Parliament, working class MPs are scarce now. The Tory-LibDem Lobbying Act is designed to make political campaigning and organising more difficult. Lisa Nandy was applauded for confirming that Labour will repeal this law.

I really enjoyed chatting to Owen afterwards and telling him about our campaign in Guildford. It is great to meet famous people who turn out to be really nice people in real life. He was very encouraging about how important it is to take the fight to the Tories in Surrey. Owen described the LibDems’ betrayal of voters here and across the country as “doing a Clegg”. The Labour candidate for Sheffield Hallam, Nick Clegg’s seat was there to. Oliver Coppard stands a great chance of beating Clegg and delivering the LibDem leader’s punishment he deserves for breaking his pledges on tuition fees, the NHS and many others. I have met Oliver a few times and I know he will be the great MP that the people of Sheffield Hallam deserve after being failed so badly by Clegg.

Owen Jones and me chatting after the Real Recall event

Owen Jones and me chatting after the Real Recall event

Recall that works but doesn’t oppress

There were other interesting speakers, Joe Cox from Compass and Jonathan Isaby from the Taxpayers’ Alliance. The event was expertly chaired by Blanche Jones from 38 Degrees. The Taxpayers’ Alliance is a right wing pressure group whose message is “you’re on your own”, so I don’t warm to them, to put it mindly. However, they are in favour of recall which is good, although I have my suspicions about the kind of recall they would prefer. Lisa Nandy put her finger on it when she talked about the danger of big corporations funding campaigns against MPs in marginal constituencies to have them recalled for opposing their interests. I fear the Taxpayers’ Alliance may have that future in mind.

A revealing comment from Isaby: “Police and Crime Commissioner elections increased democracy”. PCCs have been a failure of democracy and need to be abolished, in my opinion. On the other hand, what 38 Degrees does is real democracy.

I’m in favour of recall for MPs who have lied, stolen and grossly abused the trust of their constituents. I believe this should be driven by voters, not MPs and not big corporations. The Scottish referendum campaign told us what we already know – people are disengaged and disillusioned with Westminster. A real recall system can be part of forcing Westminster to start listening and finding answers to the questions people are asking.

Sure Start centres close in Surrey under David Cameron


Press Statement from Richard Wilson, Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Guildford 10 August 2014

 

THE CHOICE ON CHILDCARE: TORY FAILURE ON SURE START REVEALED – 93 CENTRES IN SOUTH EAST HAVE CLOSED UNDER DAVID CAMERON

 

Ninety-three Sure Start Centres in the South East region have closed since 2010 despite Tory promises to protect the network, new analysis has revealed.

 

Every single council in England has been forced to cut its Sure Start funding by at least 40% – in the South East the figure is 44% or a reduction of £163.2m.

Figures unearthed in a Government consultation show that David Cameron is planning to cut the overall funding for Sure Start by 52% over this Parliament.

 

  • In Kent the number has dropped from 96 to 84 
  • In Surrey the number has fallen from 69 down to 58
  • In West Sussex following the merger of 8 centres there are 4 fewer Children’s Centres.
  • In East Sussex 5 centres have closed
  • In Brighton and Hove 3 have closed.
  • Following the merger of 8 centres there are 4 fewer Children’s Centres in West Sussex.

 

Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Guildford, Richard Wilson, said, “It is very disappointing that since 2010 Surrey has lost so many Sure Start Centres which are so valued by many parents. Recently it was also revealed that overcrowding in Surrey’s infant classes has more than doubled. David Cameron and Conservative Surrey County Council have targeted their austerity measures at the youngest children in the county and their parents.

 

“After failing Surrey’s families on childcare and education, Conservative councillors went on to vote themselves huge pay rises. There is a choice in Surrey. Labour is committed to protecting Sure Start and increasing free childcare where both parents work. Families in Surrey are struggling with rising living costs and stagnant wages. These measures will make a real difference.”

 

Today Lucy Powell MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Childcare and Children, will highlight The Choice facing the country next May. Voters face a choice between a Tory-led Government which has failed on childcare and which threatens more of the same and a Labour future which would help tackle the cost-of-living crisis with action on childcare.

Nationally the new analysis reveals that:

 

  • There are 628 fewer Sure Start centres now than in April 2010 – an average of three fewer every week. 
  • Many of those that remain have been downgraded and face an uncertain future under the Tories.
  • One in ten Sure Start centres provides fewer services, one in six has seen a reduction in hours, and one in five has fewer staff than in 2010.

 

Lucy Powell said: “The Tories promised to protect Sure Start but have delivered only failure. Thanks to them there are 628 fewer centres than there were in 2010, and those that remain are under pressure and facing an uncertain future.

 

“Only Labour is committed to renewing and reinvigorating Sure Start. We will reform the way local services work together to shift from sticking-plaster services to radical early help to provide good quality support to all families that need it.

 

“At the next election the choice is clear. The threat of five more years of a Tory Party which has let Sure Start wither on the vine, or a Labour future where Sure Start is protected and families are put first.”

 

 

Ends

 

For interviews please contact Danielle Glavin on 07941 425 421 or via email Danielle_Glavin@labour.org.uk

 

 

Notes to editors

 

 

Background cuts briefing

 

Cameron’s Sure Start Scandal – every single council in England forced to cut its Sure Start funding by at least 40%

 

  • New research shows that every council in the country has had to cut its funding for Sure Start by at least 40%.
  • Figures unearthed in a Government consultation show that David Cameron is planning to cut the overall funding for Sure Start by 52% over this Parliament.

 

Background

 

  • The table below shows the EIG cuts by region (in £m).

 

 

2010-11

2014-15

     
 

Predecessor grants before in year reduction and excluding Two Year Old Offer grant

Early Intervention funding within start-up funding assessment

 

Change 2010-11 to 2014-15

   

2013-14 prices

   

£

%

           

Region

         

North West

427.3

232.4

 

-226.3

-49.9%

North East

171.5

91.9

 

-92.1

-50.6%

Yorkshire and the Humber

293.9

162.3

 

-153.2

-49.1%

West Midlands

305.1

172.7

 

-154.9

-47.8%

East Midlands

212.5

124.6

 

-103.7

-45.9%

East of England

242.6

150.1

 

-110.7

-43.0%

London

500.8

296.6

 

-241.4

-45.4%

South East

349.2

212.0

 

-163.2

-44.0%

South West

222.1

133.4

 

-105.3

-44.6%

Source: House of Commons Library

 

  • The planned budgets for the Early Intervention Grant (EIG)* for the 2014/15 and 2015/16 financial years reveal a reduction in real terms of 52% (amounts are £m).

 

2010/11

2014/15

2015/16

Baseline

Indicative budget

Cash reduction

%

Real terms reduction

%

Indicative budget

Cash reduction

%

Real terms reduction

%

2725

1585

-1140

-42

-1261

-46

1451

-1274

-47

-1408

-52

*The EIG covers the amount distributed to councils for Sure Start children’s centres and a range of other childcare and intervention programmes. The Government has removed the ring-fence for Sure Start funding.[1]

Source: Local Government Finance Settlement 2014-15 and 2015-16: technical consultation, 25 July 2013, http://goo.gl/SS1e1C

 

 

 

  • Before the 2010 General Election, David Cameron promised to “back Sure Start”.

 

“Yes, we back Sure Start. It’s a disgrace that Gordon Brown has been trying to frighten people about this.”

David Cameron, The Independent, 5 May 2010

 

  • But according to local authority responses to Freedom of Information requests, there are now 628 fewer designated children’s centres now than in April 2010 – that’s an average of around three fewer every week.

 

   

Designated Sure Start centres

 

Local Authority

As of official stats (April 2010)

Now

Difference (official stats)

Brighton and Hove

15

12

-3

Buckinghamshire

35

35

0

East Sussex

36

31

-5

Hampshire

81

54

-27

Isle of Wight

8

8

0

Kent

96

84

-12

Medway

19

19

0

Milton Keynes

20

20

0

Oxfordshire

45

43

-2

Portsmouth

16

9

-7

Reading

13

13

0

Slough

10

10

0

Southampton

14

4

-10

Surrey

69

58

-11

West Berkshire

10

10

0

West Sussex

49

45

-4

Windsor and Maidenhead

10

2

-8

Wokingham

10

6

-4

 

556

463

-93

 

 

Number of designated children’s centres, April 2010[1]

Number of designated children’s centres, August 2014[2]

Change in number of designated children’s centres since April 2010

Weeks since the general election as of 7 August 2014

Average reduction of children’s centres, per week

3,631

3,003

-628

223

2.8

 

  • For those children’s centres that remain, many local authorities have been forced to reduce services, opening hours and staff. Local authority responses to Freedom of Information requests show that one-in-ten Sure Start centres provide fewer services; one-in-six have reduced their opening hours; and one-in-five have fewer staff than in 2010. These figures could be even higher as some local authorities were failed to provide a useable answer.

 

 

Since 2010, number of Sure Start centres[3] with

% of designated children’s centres

Number of LAs that provided a useable answer

fewer services

306

10.2%

129

reduced hours

482

16.1%

136

fewer staff

625

20.8%

116

 

 

 

  • The Government’s own research shows services at children’s centres are already stretched to the limit, with budget pressures forcing managers to lay off staff, cut back on services and reduce opening hours.

 

“For some, the reorganisation had meant reduced centre hours or centre sessions as well as reduced partnership working. Others struggled to maintain the expertise of current senior staff (for example Qualified Teachers), whom might be at risk of relocation or redundancy.”

DfE, research report by the University of Oxford, 18 July 2013, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/224096/DFE-RR297.pdf

 

  • Earlier in the year the Government deleted Sure Start closure figures from their official website on the orders of Education Minister Liz Truss, reportedly as part of a “data cleansing” exercise[5].

 

  • At Annual Conference 2013, Labour set out plans to tackle the rising cost and insufficient availability of childcare and help families feeling the pinch and struggling to balance work and family life. Labour will introduce:

o   A primary childcare guarantee, giving all parents of primary school children the guarantee of childcare availability through their school from 8am-6pm.

o   The extension of free childcare for working parents from 15 to 25 hours.

 

 

 

[1] Department for Education, Numbers of Sure Start children’s centres: April 2010, 17 June 2010, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/219406/main_20text_20osr142010.pdf

[2] Current figures are based on local authority responses to the Freedom of Information request “Please provide the number of designated statutory children’s centres now”, received between April 2014 and July 2014. Manchester, Nottingham and Wigan did not provide an answer, so data was taken at 18 November 2013, before it was deleted from an official website. Some local authorities were keen to highlight that reductions were due to mergers.

[3] Figures are based on local authority responses to the following Freedom of Information request:
“How many Sure Start centres in [local authority] provide fewer services now than they did in 2009/10?
“How many Sure Start centres in [local authority] have reduced their opening hours since 2009/10?
How many Sure Start centres in [local authority] have fewer staff now than in 2009/10?”
Responses  received between May 2014 and July 2014.

 

[5] The Mirror, 2 January 2014, http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/sure-start-closure-figures-deleted-2978571

[1] DfE, 21 August 2012, http://www.education.gov.uk/childrenandyoungpeople/earlylearningandchildcare/delivery/funding/a0070357/eig-faqs#faq3

 

 

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