This week Sutton Council launched a two-month consultation to help us make some significant decisions that will affect the future of the services that are provided at our Children’s Centres. The consultation, part of our Sutton’s Future campaign, will encourage residents to have their say on possible options for the 14 Children’s Centres which we fund. The centres support the early development of young children and assist parents in giving their child the best possible start in life. We are faced with having to reduce the service or find other ways for residents to access them because of the unprecedented cuts to council budgets by the Government. We have to save £40m from our annual budget by 2019, having already saved £32m since 2011.
Until now we’ve been able to protect services for children and families. So, when many local authorities were reducing the number of Children’s Centres between 2008 and 2012, we decided to retain ours for as long as possible. However, in order to help make the cuts to the council’s budget we are now proposing to provide a smaller number through ‘hub’ centres which would deliver a full range of services and ‘spokes’ which would become local-area delivery points for smaller, more targeted services. The consultation will include workshops at each of the 14 Children’s Centres and an online survey. It will help us better understand the impact that closing the centres will have on families, the services they use and how they use them, as well as the alternatives available.
The options being considered include:
- Retain one full ‘hub’ Children’s Centre with three ‘spoke’ delivery points
- Retain three full ‘hub’ Children’s Centres with up to two ‘spoke’ delivery points
- Retaining four full ‘hub’ Children’s Centres with one ‘spoke’ delivery point
- Exploring shared services with another local authority
- Outsourcing the service
These are not easy decisions, but by working as a smarter council we will be able to deliver modern and efficient services that benefit our residents.
More information on the children’s centres consultation is available at www.suttonsfuture.org/childrenscentres