Leadership Candidate Tom Watson writes on Children’s Centres

Sure Start transforms lives forever. It is one of Labour’s greatest ever achievements and it is under brutal attack by the Tories. Labour Friends of Sure Start believes that the future of our Children’s Centres should be a key issue in this Leadership contest. So we wrote to every candidate for Leader and Deputy Leader of the Party asking their vision for Sure Start. We are publishing their responses this week. Today it is the turn of Deputy Leadership candidate Tom Watson.

Sure Start, a flagship programme established by the Labour Government, brought a great deal to many families and children. I have seen Sure Start centres change the lives of children and their families for the better.

In these years of forced austerity both charities and local authorities  have worked hard to retain the core of what Sure Start stood for—giving children, particularly those in deprived communities,  the best start in life.

There is no doubt that the Labour vision has been diminished in the last five years by the actions of the Coalition government. Availability of Sure Start children’s centres as were envisioned by the Labour Government, has fallen, it is not guaranteed for all those children who need it and quality is varied.

More investment is essential. But local authorities in many areas have been stripped bare of any capacity to grow services. So do we sit back and do nothing when we know just how important the first few years of a child’s life are? I cannot do that and neither will Labour.

Being able to go to work means many parents need support beyond what the family can provide. It is in all our interests that they are able to do so. But we also want quality of care, learning and fun for children. Sure Start needs to be a partnership between state, parent and all those in our economy who benefit from working families and from the future generations that high quality Sure Start staff can nurture.

Photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jwyg/3412252925, by Jonathan Gray

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