CHILDREN’S minister Sarah Teather has written to mums in Hampshire to say she cannot interfere with Hampshire County Council’s decision to cut its Sure Start budget.
Responding to a 22,000-strong petition presented to 10 Downing Street earlier this year by members of the Save Our Children’s Centre (SOCC) campaign, she said: ‘I appreciate the concerns that you and all those who signed the petition have raised.
‘I would like to take this opportunity to reassure you that Sure Start children’s centres are at the heart of the government’s vision for supporting families with young children.’
She added: ‘It is for local authorities to decide how best to meet local needs by targeting investment in those services that will have the greatest impact.’
The SOCC campaign is fighting to reinstate the Sure Start budget ring-fence. This year, education boss Cllr Roy Perry approved 35 per cent cuts worth £6m that have resulted in plans for centre mergers and new management structures.
Catherine Ovenden, SOCC co-founder, said: ‘If Sure Start Centres are truly at the heart of the government’s vision for supporting families with young children, why would they allow local councils to continue with such enormous cuts?’
SOCC Hampshire will be responding to Ms Teather to request a meeting with her to discuss their concerns.