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Children’s centres’ budgets fall by over a third

Children’s centres have seen their budgets fall by over a third in the last five years, prompting the charity Barnardo’s to urge the new Conservative Government to act now to halt the fall in funding.

Research by the charity into Department for Education figures reveal, during the period 2010/11 to 2014/15, the annual children centres expenditure fell sharply from £1.2bn to an estimated £740m.

A loss on this scale, over the next five years, could see annual funding for children’s centres decline by an average of £92 million per year.

Barnardo’s chief executive, Javed Khan said: “Cuts to basic early support now will only result in increased costs in the future. Without the vital support of children centres to the poorest children and families, we are simply neglecting the seeds of more costly problems later in the shape of troubled families, crime, substance abuse and unemployment. “Investing in the UK’s children’s centres simply makes sense, not only are we investing in our children, we are investing in our future.”

Helen Berresford, 4Children’s director of external affairs, believes that reducing early support for children is a false economy.

She said that evidence shows that intervening early can stop problems from escalating and help prevent families falling into crisis.

These figures are cause for concern for the great number of families who rely on the services and support provided by Children’s Centres across the country.

The existing network of Children’s Centres can transform the way we support families today – tried, trusted and at the heart of communities, centres can bring professionals and services together and act as a one-stop-shop for families in need of help. We should be looking at how we get the most out of our Children’s Centres – helping them to fulfil their huge potential.

“Stronger families mean a stronger economy and investing in them makes social and economic sense,” she added.

There is a network of over 2,800 stand-alone children’s centres which provide a range of services to support families with children under five.

Barnardo’s manages 190 children’s centres who work with the families who struggle daily with the nation’s stubborn poverty problem. The factors driving hardship are complex and vary from family to family and local children’s centres are ideally placed to intervene early and prevent difficult issues becoming far worse.

June 2015