Barbara has been reassuring people locally that a future Labour Government would maintain their free entitlement to nursery places, as well as funding for all families to use Sure Start Children’s Centres and continue the planned investment in new school buildings across Salford. Conservative plans would reduce or cut all these areas.
The Conservatives see the budget of the Department of Children, Schools and Families as a candidate for cuts with specific changes planned to the availability of services at Sure Start Children’s Centres. Tory Leader David Cameron wants to re-focus the work of the Children’s Centres by restricting services to those on the lowest incomes. Conservative policy documents also show a cut of £200 million in the planned budget for Sure Start, to fund Tory plans to use more Health Visitors.
Now the Observer newspaper has reported that the Conservatives have promised nursery providers that they would be allowed to charge top-up fees. In further blows to families with children, Conservatives have said that they would cut the investment in new School Buildings in Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme, restrict the Child Trust Fund for babies to the poorest families and stop Child Tax Credits for families on modest or middle incomes. Conservative School Plans involve cutting fifteen percent from Building Schools for the Future funding to pay for building new Academies.
“I am committed to our local Sure Start Children’s Centres and Labour will ensure that services are available for all families in Worsley and Eccles South. Segregating Sure Start for just lower income families is the wrong approach – it would be a step backwards. Sure Start Children’s Centres must be available to all.
“The Tories have got the wrong priorities for families. Cutting Sure Start and the Child Trust Fund and Child Tax Credits would stop all the advances we have made that help families and that reduce child poverty. If the Tories plan to introduce top-up fees for nurseries, that is also wrong. The Tories are hitting families with children hard if they take all this away from them and also make them pay top-up fees for nursery places.
“Labour plans to rebuild and refurbish every High School in Salford but the Tories want to siphon off 15% of the investment planned for our existing schools to build new Academies. I challenge my Tory opponent to say which of our High Schools he wants to take out of Labour’s planned programme for new School Buildings. I also challenge him to come clean with families on modest incomes and say why Tories plan to take away their access to Sure Start services, Child Trust Funds and tax credits and make them pay top-up fees for nursery provision.”