Shameless Rishi Sunak defends Tory cuts to Sure Start children's centres despite evidence

The Chancellor admitted evidence shows “the very early ears in young family’s lives are critical” – but defended more than a billion pounds in cuts

Shameless Rishi Sunak defended Tory cuts to Sure Start children’s centres despite admitting there was overwhelming evidence to support early years support.

Sure Start centres, which brought together health, parenting support and childcare for the under-5s, received £1.8bn a year at their 2009 peak.

But spending has fallen by more than two-thirds over the last decade under the Tories with many centres scaled back or closed.

The Chancellor this week announced £500 million for early years support including including £82m to set up family hubs in 75 new council areas.

Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green added: “This is a smokescreen for the Conservatives’ failure to deliver for families.”

The Lib Dems warned the cash is a “drop in the ocean” after years of Tory cuts to services like Sure Start.

And today, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said: “Have you heard of Sure Start?

“If you hadn’t taken all that away, imagine the difference to the lives of young people.”

Carley Beard and Bessie McVay at Broadhurst Community Centre Lightbowne Road, Moston – a former Sure Start Centre


Manchester Evening News)

She said the new programme was ‘a pale imitation and an insult” to the people who introduced Sure Start – adding it was an “act of criminality” to scrap it.

The Chancellor defended the decade of cuts to the vital support for young families.

Asked to accept that his party slashing Sure Start was a mistake, he told Sky News: “No, I think it’s right to judge everyone by the context that they’re doing their jobs in.

“And one thing that my predecessors, not just George [Osborne] did was ensure that I had a very strong economy and set of public finances that I inherited.”

But Mr Sunak admitted evidence showed “the very early ears in young family’s lives are critical.”

He said: “Thats where parents often struggle, and that’s where actually we need to provide a little bit more attention.”

But he claimed the forthcoming ‘Family Hubs’ were “broader” than Sure Start centres.

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