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On 15th April Lambeth Council Cabinet will be asked to approve proposals to close five of the borough’s 23 children’s centres and reduce funding at a further seven.
These proposals are deeply unpopular. Over 1000 people responded to a consultation on the proposal with the majority of these expressing major concerns.
There is good reason for this concern: children’s centres have a significant impact on children’s achievement and readiness for school (which is greater for children whose first language is not English), are vital in supporting early intervention and promote social cohesion. These benefits are put at risk by the funding cuts and the Equalities Impact Assessment that has been prepared for cabinet also notes that the impact of the cuts “may be greater for families living in workless or low income households; and for families of children with special educational needs or disabilities”.
The council is undoubtedly forced to make difficult financial choices because of the enormous cuts in central government funding. However these cuts should not mean that the council’s proposals should be accepted without challenge – we must and we will hold the administration to account.
This week Lambeth resident and Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Floella Benjamin held a productive meeting with Councillor Jennifer Brathwaite, Lambeth Council’s cabinet member for Children & Young People, to discuss the proposed cuts to funding for children’s centres.
Baroness Benjamin has been a longstanding campaigner and advocate for children and was instrumental in the introduction of Sure Start centres. She joined the local Lib Dem team to ask the council for assurances over the provision of services that are vital to the whole community, but especially important to the most vulnerable.
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This week Baroness Floella Benjamin, who is a Lambeth-based Liberal Democrat peer, wrote to Councillor Brathwaite expressing her concerns around the proposed cuts to children's services in our borough.
"I urge you to reconsider your proposals and I hope you will find a way to give Lambeth's children the start in life that they deserve. I would very much like to meet with you to discuss this important and urgent matter further", said Baroness Benjamin.
You can read the full text of Baroness Benjamin's letter here.
She will be meeting Lambeth Council representatives soon, reflecting the views of many local residents who have been campaigning to stop the cuts.
Join Baroness Benjamin in this campaign by writing to your local Councillors.