MPs say cutting Sure Start centres would be a 'mistake'

Rushing to judge the worth of Sure Start children's centres could jeopardise one of the most innovative and ambitious initiatives of the last two decades, according to MPs.

Cutting child services in Sure Start centres would have a detrimental effect (Photograph: SPL)
Cutting child services in Sure Start centres would have a detrimental effect (Photograph: SPL)

A report by the Commons' children, schools and families committee says the majority have been in place for less than four years and impact evaluations will only be meaningful over the long term.

It says yielding to short-term financial pressure and reducing the number of centres or pruning the range of services offered would be a mistake.

The focus must now be on raising the quality of staffing and services and on improving the performance of the centres in reaching the most vulnerable families.

The report finds that partnership working with health services, particularly GPs, is patchy.

Barry Sheerman (Labour, Huddersfield), the committee chair, said: ‘To put at risk the pioneering work of the last 12 years would be nothing short of a disaster. The early years are when the greatest difference can be made to a child's life chances and it is vital that investment in children's centres is allowed to bear fruit.'

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