Sure Start Children’s Centre services in Newcastle are facing a two thirds cut in funding over the next three years.
The proposals will mean closure of services, buildings, parents groups, activities for young children. It will mean at least 100 jobs will be lost across the council and the voluntary sector, opportunities for children and parents will continue to be worsened after significant cuts already since 2010. Many families will be even more isolated following the axing of the council’s play and youth services last year.
The council proposals for 2013 – 2016 amount to over £5 million, approx. 65% of the total budget.
50% of these services are delivered by the council and 50% by the Community and Voluntary Sector. The city council have estimated that for the work they directly deliver this would equate to the loss of 63 full time equivalent posts. Since many jobs are part-time or job shares, the true number of people who lose jobs may be far higher.
Unison — which represents the majority of workers — is bringing together parents, communities and workers in what hopes to be a campaign that gives parents and young children a voice. A series of “we love Sure Start” cards have been presented to the Labour leader on Valentine’s day.
Meetings have been held for all staff, a petition has been launched, and a series of local meetings with parents are planned to discuss the next steps, with a proposal for a mass picnic of protest in front of the civic centre for the summer term.