More Sure Start centres have closed than official figures show - report
Some 1,000 children’s centres in England may have closed since 2009, a new study has suggested - double the number estimated by the Government.
According to the Sutton Trust about 30% of the 3,600 Sure Start centres that were open in August 2009 may have closed, despite the national database recording a 14% fall.
The Sure Start scheme was launched by the Labour government in 1998 to bring services for parents and their young children together.
The Sutton Trust said its research was “more up to date and complete than the official figures”, which suggest about 500 have closed, because they include some satellite sites.
“There is no clear definition of a children's centre, with a large number of 'linked sites' counted by some authorities but not by others,” its new report said.
"Many closures announced locally were not yet reflected in the database: our survey showed a 16% drop.
"If we only count 'registered centres', the drop since 2009 was more than 30%, suggesting that more than 1,000 centres nationally might have closed."
Sutton Trust founder Sir Peter Lampl said: Sir Peter Lampl, said: "Good quality early years provision makes a substantial difference in the development of children, especially those who come from the poorest homes.
"It is a serious issue that the services that Sure Start centres offer are much more thinly spread than they were a decade ago."
But the Department for Education said local authorities will have received some £200bn for local services in the four years up to 2019/20.
A spokesperson said: "It's right we give councils the freedom to decide what services they provide for their community as they're best placed to understand local need and how to meet them."
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