Government report revealing full impact of cuts to children’s centres

Government report revealing full impact of cuts to children’s centres

A damning report which revealed the full extent of the harm done by funding cuts to children’s centres was among more than 400 statements, documents and reports quietly released by the Government just before Christmas.

A six-year study by Oxford University researchers ‘The impact of children’s centres: studying the effects of children’s centres in promoting better outcomes for young children and their families‘ highlighted how children’s centres – often known as Sure Start – were making a difference in some of the poorest areas of the country, but have suffered acutely from cuts or restructuring.

The final report was agreed in August, but the Department for Education (DfE), which commissioned it, quietly slipped it out on 17 December, along with hundreds of other statements, documents and reports.

The study is the most detailed ever conducted into the impact of children’s centres on the families who use them. The researchers examined 117 children’s centres in 2011 and 2013 – many of which may have been hit by further cuts since – and analysed interviews with more than 2,600 parents who used them, in order to calculate the impact the centres were having on families using different types of service.

Hampshire Libraries

Hampshire Libraries

I’m a big fan of libraries.  I grew up regularly going into town to get out a wide range of books – especially biographies, sport and history books.

Hampshire Library Service, like so many others across the country, has been going through a review as part of the austerity measures.  A paper on ‘Library Service Transformation – Strategy to 2020‘ is due to be considered at the Culture & Communities Select Committee on 22nd March.

Hythe_LibraryWith my current role I find it difficult to make the time to regularly get to the library, let alone read for enjoyment.  But one of the best discoveries I made in recent years was the opportunity to download and read e-Magazines for free from the Hampshire Library Service.

More recently I’ve learnt that you can borrow up to 5 e-books and/or audio books for up to 14 days for free?  You can download eBooks and eAudio books onto your ereader, desktop, laptop or mobile device using Overdrive.

  • up to 5 items can be borrowed at a time
  • up to 14 day lending period depending on item
  • no charge for loans

For more information please do visit the Hampshire Library Service website.

 

Plans to freeze benefits for four years ‘will hit 7 million children’

Plans to freeze benefits for four years ‘will hit 7 million children’

The Children’s Society has urged ministers to reconsider plans for a four-year freeze on a range of benefits and agree a moratorium on future welfare cuts for low-income families. The charity made the call after its research suggested that the plans risk pushing more children into poverty.

More than 7 million children living in low-income families will be affected by a four-year freeze to their benefits that risks pushing many more into poverty, according to new research.  The report says families could lose up to 12% from the real value of their benefits over the next four years as a result of government plans to freeze child tax credits, working tax credits and jobseekers’ allowance from April.

The charity is calling on ministers to reconsider the planned freeze and agree to a moratorium on any further cuts in support for low-income families. It says almost two thirds of those who will be adversely affected live in working households who receive benefits to top up low pay.

Matthew Reed, Children’s Society chief executive, said:

“Families on low incomes are facing a barrage of cuts. If ministers are genuinely concerned about child poverty they must reconsider plans to freeze benefits over the next four years.

“At the very least, the government needs to guarantee there will be no further cuts when the chancellor delivers his budget next month.

“Austerity has hit families hard, including those in work. Further cuts to support would push more children into poverty and undermine incentives for families to move into work or earn more.”

The research paper The Future of Family Incomes is well worth reading.

Another Council proposes to axe all its youth clubs

sutton-youth-centre-sutton-council1250-343x343It’s not surprising but frustrating to read of another Council proposing to close all its youth clubs.

Sutton Council said it has to reduce its annual £1.1m spend on youth and adolescent services budget as part of £74m of cuts that have to be made across the authority by 2019.  It is proposing to only maintain services that have to be provided by law. This would result in savings of £667,000, a cut of 60.4 per cent to the overall budget.

The council said that as a result there will be “no physical youth service”, meaning two youth centres will be closed and a third will instead be used for office accommodation. Meanwhile the borough’s youth parliament will also be axed.

The council said that statutory provision will mean the council continuing to support and track young people not in education, employment or training (Neet). Meanwhile a youth officer will become responsible for the oversight of youth provision in the borough and engaging with local providers of youth activities.

Wendy Mathys, chair of the children, families and education committee at Sutton Council, said:

“Unprecedented government cuts to our budget mean we have no choice but to reduce the size of the council and the services we offer.  Our youth and adolescent services are a valuable resource and it is with great regret that we are having to make these changes.  It is really important that people have their say so we can understand what services matter to people. We can then work with our partner organisations to find other ways that our young people can receive the support they need.”

Sutton Council has launched a consultation on the proposals that closes on 13 December.