The campaign to Save Lambeth’s Children’s Centres requested the TRA support them at the last general meeting. Here is their statement read out by the chair
The Children’s Centre Campaigns is a collaboration of staff, parents and Trade Unions who are concerned that the closure of Children’s Centres will irreparably harm health and education provision young families from the antenatal period until the child’s fifth birthday. Lambeth Council is citing a reduction in its funding from Central Government of £1.4m per year as the reason why it has to close six children’s centres and downgrade 7, to save £0.5m per year. That reduction in spending on the under 5s will increase costs for services required for adolescents by £3.5m per year, which is less affordable (please see the infographic from NHS England).
Ahead of the 2018 local elections, Lambeth Labour said that defending the borough’s 23 Children’s Centres was a key part of its public health strategy to reduce serious youth violence. This has now been abandoned, even though we know that more work is desperately needed to ensure that the babies in the borough have long, healthy, happy lives.
It is harder to protect Children’s Centres than Libraries because they are newer, so fewer people have accessed them. Families use them for a short period of their lives. We need the Tenants and Residents Associations to work with us by raising awareness of the campaign and the cuts, so that they remain available for current and future under 5s on Lambeth Estates.
I will freely acknowledge that in the absence of significant opposition on the Council, the I believe that the people of Lambeth have a greater duty to scrutinise the actions of our local Government. I do not believe that this will be the only issue that we, the people of this amazing borough will need to collaborate on, not least because as a LEAP ward, the Council is attempting to reassure you that Jubillee Children’s Centre is safe, even though more parents from Streatham and the other side of Brockwell Park will be using your Children’s Centre as theirs close. LEAP only has 3 further years of delivery, then two years of evaluation.
Many thanks to you all for considering my request for support.
Cllr Adrian Garden replied. He said
Although we [Lambeth Council] are cutting funding to some Children’s Centres, all the buildings will remain open and all will continue to provide some services for children
The Council absorbed £900,000 of the government’s £1,400,000 cuts to Children’s Centres, and reduced the cut to £500,000
The Council cannot use finite (and limited) reserves to prop up a continuing revenue spend – especially when we might be hit by the as yet unknown implications of Brexit and/or additional government cuts (Reserves are for one off emergencies.