Andy Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith, says:
"Revelations that Hammersmith and Fulham Council were cutting the borough’s Sure Start budget by 45% – the second deepest cuts in the country when compared with other boroughs – were met with boastful claims from the Tory administration that, despite this, they were not only able to prevent any centres from closing but were also able to open a new one.
"However, analysis of the funding arrangements for the sixteen centres in the borough has revealed that ten of the centres will receive less than £25,000 per year as of April 2012. Under the current funding arrangements, the Wendell Park Family Centre received £62,500 in the first quarter of this financial year – the equivalent of £250,000 for the year. The funding earmarked for the 2012-2013 financial year is just 10% of that figure at £25,000.
"There is a similar story at Shepherd’s Bush Families Project and Children’s Centre. Whereas the current funding arrangement allocated £62,500 in the first quarter of this financial year, just £5,000 per quarter is allocated thereafter. The substantial cuts to funding will mean that nine out of the fifteen centres currently open will no longer be able to operate as Sure Start centres as the services they are offering do not fulfil the legal criteria.
"What these figures show is that the Council is quite happy to leave Sure Start centres hanging by a thread as long as they don’t have to face up to the consequences of slashing funding.
"Hammersmith and Fulham Tories need to answer two questions: why are their cuts to Sure Start among the biggest in the country? Furthermore, why are they pretending that centres aren’t closing when their own figures show that nine out of fifteen will cease to operate as Sure Start centres and will only be used for outside events?"