Hundreds of residents have their say on the future of our children’s centres

childrenscentre

The first round of consultation on the future of our children’s centres has seen more than 120 people attend 14 workshops at centres across the borough and 670 residents have completed an online survey.

Currently Sutton funds 14 Children’s Centres which support the early development of young children, assist parents in giving their child the best possible start in life and encourage good physical and mental health for children and families.

The council is faced with having to reduce the service or find other ways that residents can access them because of the unprecedented cuts to council budgets by the government. As a result, the council has to save £40m from its annual budget, currently £152m, by 2019, having already saved £30m since 2011.

Through Sutton’s Future, a campaign to involve residents in shaping the future of the borough through the government cuts, the council launched a two month consultation which ended last Friday 20 March.

The results of the survey and workshop feedback will be used to inform a paper, to be presented to Sutton Council’s Children, Family and Education Committee later in the year.

Further consultation will take place on the specific proposals before a final decision is made in December.

Cllr Wendy Mathys, Chair of the Children, Families and Education Committee said:

“Our children’s centres are a valuable community resource so I am delighted that so many residents took part in our 14 workshops and completed the online survey.

“Having attended many of these consultations myself it became clear how important many of the services are to parents and families of young children and how highly their staff are valued.

“We can now better look at how people use the centres so we can reconfigure the service in an affordable way and look at other ways families can access support.

“With unprecedented government cuts to our budget, there are some difficult decisions to make. However, through Sutton’s Future, we are making sure the needs of our residents are at the heart of everything we do.”

The council has sought to protect services for children and families. As a result, when many local authorities were reducing the number of Children’s Centres between 2008 and 2012, Sutton Council decided to retain them for as long as possible. However, faced with having to make significant cuts, the council must now make changes.

Various suggestions have been made on the way forward but no final decisions have yet been  taken. The council will now carefully look at various options, including  ‘hub and spoke’ models,  to see how  best to address the needs of parents within the budgets available, based on the feedback received.

Changes to the service need to be made by April 2016.

For more information, go to the Sutton’s Future website.

Children’s Centres in Sutton

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:

  1. Retain one full ‘hub’ Children’s Centre with three ‘spoke’ delivery points
  2. Retain three full ‘hub’ Children’s Centres with up to two ‘spoke’ delivery points
  3. Retaining four full ‘hub’ Children’s Centres with one ‘spoke’ delivery point
  4. Exploring shared services with another local authority
  5. 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