More children are benefitting from access to Sure Start centres in the East Riding of Yorkshire despite a fall in funding, figures show.
Charity Action for Children has called for the Government to provide more funding to “ease the squeeze” on children’s centres, which it says play a crucial role in both safeguarding and childhood development.
A Freedom of Information request submitted by the charity has revealed a 4% rise in the number of children and young people under 18 using Sure Start centres in the East Riding over a four year period.
Sure Start children’s centres provide early learning, childcare, health and social care services for children, as well as advice, information and training for parents.
They are designed to reduce inequality and improve outcomes and development for children.
The East Riding of Yorkshire Council recorded 12,352 children accessing services in its centres in 2017-18.
This was up from 11,901 in 2014-15.
Over the same period, the council’s expenditure on Sure Start centres fell by 13% in real terms, to £5.11 million in 2017-18. This means the council spent £414 per child in 2017-18, compared to £492 in 2014-15.
Imran Hussain, director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, said: “Children’s centres have seen their budgets slashed by almost two-thirds since 2010, leaving many thousands of new parents with nowhere to turn for early support.”
The Local Government Association says councils face a £3.1 billion funding gap in children’s services by 2025.
Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “While many councils have adapted well to the funding pressures, there is a growing sense that councils have done all they can within ever-tightening budgets.”
Nadhim Zahawi, minister for children and families, said it was up to councils to decide how to organise and commission services in their area.
He added: “We are spending around £3.5 billion on our early education entitlements this year alone.”
Article by data reporter Harriet Clugston.