Labour will spend £500m to restore Sure Start - Angela Rayner
A future Labour government would spend £500m on reversing cuts to Sure Start centres, Angela Rayner announced today.
In a rousing speech to her party's conference, the shadow education secretary described how the centres had helped her when she was bringing up her son as a teenage mum.
She also reiterated the manifesto commitment to introduce a "crade-to-grave" National Education Service, taking in schools, further education and technical training.
Discussing her own background, Ms Rayner told delegates: "When I became pregnant at sixteen, it was easy to think that the direction of my life, and that of my young son, was already set. My mum had a difficult life, and so did I, and it looked like my son would simply have the same.
"Instead, the last Labour Government, through support of my local Sure Start centre, transformed my son’s childhood, and made sure that his life would not have to be as hard as mine had been. So when I say that politics changes lives, I say it as someone whose own life was changed.
"Yet those services are being lost across the country. We revealed today that since 2012, £437 million has been cut from Sure Start – nearly half of their funding. That means more children and families with less control over their lives.
"So I am proud to say that we will give £500 million a year directly to Sure Start, reversing those cuts in full. Because to give every child a fair chance to succeed, we need to give them the best possible start in life."
Along with the new Sure Start money, Labour are promising a pay rise for both teachers and teaching assistants, some of whom Ms Rayner said were now working for below the minimum wage because of budget cuts.
The party are also unveiling a new report on plans to deliver free early years education for all children aged 2-4.
Ms Rayner pledged to spend £10m on providing sanitary products for teenage girls in secondary schools who cannot afford to buy their own.
The measure is party of a package aimed at tackling 'period poverty' unveiled by shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler at Labour's Women's Conference on Saturday.