Stephen McPartland visited a local Sure Start Centre recently and saw first-hand the hard work of Sure Start staff and management in supporting families in the Stevenage community. Stephen commented “I can assure you that Sure Start Children’s Centres play a critical role in our vision. As David Cameron said recently, the Conservatives are absolutely committed to Sure Start and helping its staff to do more for families.”
The Conservatives will strengthen Sure Start by recruiting thousands of additional health visitors and introducing a universal Sure Start Health Visitor service - improving the support Sure Start is able to provide to families. This will cost £200 million per year and will be paid for using money the Government has set aside for more Sure Start outreach workers and from the Department of Health, the budget of which the Conservatives have promised to increase in real terms every year. Labour on the other hand revealed in the recent Budget plans to make up to £150m of “efficiencies” in the Sure Start budget.
Currently, fewer than one in five Sure Start Children's Centres has a formal agreement with their local Primary Care trust to join together to provide the services families need. Conservative plans will change that, and put health back at the heart of Sure Start as it was when the programme was originally launched. Sure Start Health Visitors, working with outreach and other workers, will also help improve the effectiveness of support given to the most vulnerable families.
False rumours from Labour about Conservative plans have caused real anxiety and concern amongst parents, and risked distracting attention from the important task of improving Sure Start. The Conservatives are quite clear: there are no plans to close any Children’s Centres. Rather, a stronger Sure Start is at the heart of delivering the Conservative’s vision of Britain as the most family friendly country in Europe.