FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Anneliese Dodds, Labour MP for Oxford East, today called for a ‘rethink’ from both Oxfordshire County Council and the UK Government, after evidence emerged of the positive impact of Sure Start centres on childrens’ health.
The evidence is contained within a report by the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies (1), which shows how Sure Start centres were linked to a reduction in hospital admissions for children, with a particularly marked impact for children in disadvantaged areas. It follows research by Oxford-based academics which indicated that the extent of closure of Sure Start centres had been massively underestimated (2).
Anneliese stated: “Sadly, every single one of the original Sure Start children’s centres that operated in Oxford East in the 2000s has been either closed or downgraded. While some persist in calling the buildings ‘children’s centres’, they bear virtually no resemblance to what existed before.
Today’s report, by the well-respected and independent Institute for Fiscal Studies, provides clear evidence of the positive impact of Sure Start Centres.
The impact was the greatest in the most deprived areas. Yet in the most deprived parts of Oxford we have seen children’s centres downgraded to contact centres or hubs purely for the delivery of social services. Where they are still running, they are operating due to significant support from voluntary groups or the private sector. None provide the full range of services available at the original Sure Start Centres”.
The report indicates how children living in areas with Sure Start centres were less likely to have to attend hospital for injuries and for infection-based illnesses.
Anneliese concluded: “The closure of Sure Start centres has had a massive impact on many families in Oxford East. The impact on children is only now becoming clear. This report should be a wake-up call on the need for proper family-based services in our city”.