Sure Start centre use falls in North Yorkshire amid budget cuts

North Yorkshire County Council recorded 13,287 children accessing services in its centres.
North Yorkshire County Council recorded 13,287 children accessing services in its centres.

The number of children accessing Sure Start centres in North Yorkshire has fallen by 17%, according to a leading children’s charity.

Action for Children said years of cuts by the Government had left councils with little choice but to reduce funding for children’s centres – and in some cases close them all together.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by the charity has revealed a 17% drop in the number of children and young people under 18 using Sure Start centres in North Yorkshire over a four-year period.

Sure Start children’s centres provide early learning, childcare, health and social care services for children, as well as advice, information and training for parents.

They are designed to reduce inequality and improve outcomes and development for children. In October 2017, there were 25 centres in North Yorkshire .

North Yorkshire County Council recorded 13,287 children accessing services in its centres in 2017-18, down from 15,913 in 2014-15.

Over the same period, the council’s expenditure on Sure Start centres fell by 83% in real terms, to £1.28 million in 2017-18.

The Local Government Association says councils face a £3.1 billion funding gap in children’s services by 2025.

Nadhim Zahawi, minister for children and families, said it was up to councils to decide how to organise and commission services in their area. He added: “We are spending around £3.5 billion on our early education entitlements this year alone.”

Article by data reporter Harriet Clugston