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Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Haringey Children's Centre Cuts Battle Set For Government

CUTS to children's centres have been rubber-stamped as campaigners prepare to send a petition to the Government.

Funding cuts to four of Haringey's 19 children's centres, as well as a reduction in services at others, were formally agreed at a meeting at Wood Green Civic Centre yesterday afternoon.

All money will be withdrawn from the Highgate, Rokesly and Northbank centres, as well as a linked site at Tower Gardens, a decision councillors say they have been forced to make after Government cuts left the authority needing to save £41 million in the next year.

But campaigners are taking their cause to Westminster – Daisy Heath, organiser of a campaign to save the borough's children's centres, said she will write to Education Secretary Michael Gove on Monday.

She said: “We've got around 1,200 signatures on our petition – that's huge really when you consider the amount of people that use children's services.

“I'll be writing to Michael Gove to protest at the position the Government has put the council in where it's been forced to make these cuts.”

Ms Heath claims that the cuts will lower the social mobility of children in the borough.

Councillor Lorna Reith, cabinet member for children and young people, said that the reorganised children's centre service would focus on the most deprived areas.

She plans to organise remaining centres into four clusters, each with around four sites.

The council wants the manager of each cluster to coordinate services between centres so there is a variation of opening times and that they target vulnerable children effectively.

Clusters in more deprived areas such as Tottenham will continue a full range of services, spending £194 per child, but in more affluent areas centres that remain will only spend £72 per child.

The government has effectively cut the national Early Intervention Grant - which rolled up a number of smaller grants into one pot - by 22 per cent.

According to Haringey, its early years funding allocation overall has been cut by £7m to £15m.

Councillors made a 75 per cent cut to the youth services budget in February, including a £6.5m saving in the children's centres and early years budget.

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