“‘I’m afraid a child will die’: life at the sharp end of council cuts”

…. A recent analysis by the charity Action for Children concluded that spending on early intervention services for children in England has dropped by 26% over the last four years. The number of children’s centres lost since 2010 is estimated to be as high as 1,000. As the prime minister promises “the end of austerity”, many of these changes look irreversible, not least because increasing numbers of councils are facing dire financial problems.

Precisely tracking what is happening across the country is all but impossible, but freedom of information requests lodged by Labour’s shadow minister for early years, the Yorkshire MP Tracy Brabin, give a strong sense of what is going on. In Reading, the last eight years have seen the number of people employed in SureStart work drop from 95 to 53. In Wirral, the number has dropped from 219 to 63; in Southampton, from 1,189 to 583.

The vast majority of Somerset’s GetSet workers are women. Many of them do not just provide direct family support, but also organise the open playgroups that often provide a first point of contact for troubled families. “My worst fear is that a child’s going to die,” says one worker. “


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