- 2014 Local Government Service Group Conference
- 21 February 2014
Conference notes the continued threat to Sure Start through imposed budget reductions nationally.
There has been more than 500 Sure Start Children’s Centres closed, most during the first two years of this Coalition Government.
While the Coalition Government’s continued austerity cuts are the catalyst for local councils to review the future of Sure Start Children’s Centre’s, UNISON believes that many young people and parents have benefited from the services provided within Sure Start Children’s Centre’s, particularly those located in less affluent areas, and there is a need to continue to provide them in the future, councils must do all they can to retain these services, as a universal service.
Sure Start funding has been cut by 40% and more than a fifth of Sure Start workers have lost their jobs, and a sum of £150million was top sliced by Education Minister Michael Gove from funds earmarked for early intervention projects such as Sure Start and Family Support and given to the government’s adoption strategy.
Sure Start provides help and support from various teams of professionals, including education, care, family support, health services and employment; provided in a way that is easy and convenient for families.
The House of Commons Select Committee last report shows that Sure Start Children’s Centres are essential for families and must be seen a one stop shop and community cornerstone where all families can find the help they need to flourish.
The expansion of funded early education and childcare places to 40% of two year olds is to be welcomed, but this should not come at the expense of funding for Sure Start, family support and other early years services. Integrated good quality early education alongside properly funded Sure Start Children’s Centres is needed.
UNISON believes that funded early education and childcare for two year olds should be universal for all children, similar to three and four year olds.
We face the very real prospect of further cuts and closures in the coming years.
Conference call on the Service Group Executive to:
1)Campaign to oppose all cuts to Sure Start and Early Years services.
2)Support and encourage branches to coordinate campaigns to protect Sure Start Children’s Centres, bringing together workers, parents and families.
3)Support and encourage Branches to us the local press to publicise the work that is undertaken by the Centres and the impact these cuts will have on families and communities.
4)Produce campaign materials that Branches can use with their members and the public.
5)Consider how to recruit, involve and organise more early education and childcare workers and respond to considerable changes in the sector.
6)Lobby Government and opposition to support the expansion of funded early education and childcare to all two year olds.