Labour attacked over Sure Start cuts

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RULING Labour councillors in Sheffield have been criticised for proposing to cut funding for Sure Start children’s centres – only a year after attacking the Lib Dems when they were in power for similar proposals.

Last March, Lib Dems wanted to reduce the total money for the centres by £190,000, or 15 per cent, to come from reducing back office and management costs.

The funding was restored after Labour took over in May, in line with the party’s election manifesto last year.

But in Labour’s budget proposals for the 12 months from April, set to be approved on Friday, savings of £161,000 are proposed.

Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, Lib Dem group leader, said: “Last year we said these kind of reductions can be made while protecting frontline services. It appears Sheffield Labour councillors now agree, despite making all sorts of outlandish claims about these proposals when they campaigned against them in opposition just 12 months ago.”

Labour’s 2012/13 budget report reads: “This saving will be delivered by reviewing requirements of current early years core offer provision in line with early years review. It will include a range of reductions across providers according to impact, maximising efficiencies and protecting frontline service provision where possible.”

Coun Jackie Drayton, Labour cabinet member for children, young people and families, said: “Labour have carried out a fundamental review of early years services. Any reductions made to local Sure Start programmes will be delivered in line with the findings of the review. Our focus is on protecting frontline services wherever possible.”