Opposing cuts to Norfolk’s Children’s Centre Services

Norfolk County Council set its budget today. I spoke out against cuts to Children’s Centre Services. Here’s the text of my speech. You can also read more here.

Thank you Mr Chairman.
I’ll begin by confirming that I will be supporting the Labour group’s amendment today and I want to briefly say something about children’s services.
The greatest concern I have with the administration’s proposals for children’s centre services is that I just can’t see what their strategy is. And it’s pretty depressing to hear the council leader say he reversed cuts to road gritting and buses after hearing passionate arguments against them. Were there no passionate voices arguing within the administration on behalf of services for children?
At the elections last May the Conservatives said they would enhance early help and support for families. The NHS is investing millions in supporting people to keep themselves healthy and happy in resilient communities to ease the pressure on emergency services. This administration says it wants to promote independence, provide better access to advice and support and to keep families together.
Yet there is a real danger that cutting children’s centre services this deep, this early will simply mean extra costs – both financial and social – will appear further down the line. Causing real damage to real families in need.
If this is not a cut, it has to be the first step in delivering something better for less money.
Yet there is no clear indication of what will come in its place.
At the very least it is prudent to put a hold on the cuts to services for children until we have a clear plan to provide joined up support for communities that will help those most in need.