Government disputes hundreds of Sure Start closures
13th Aug 2014
There are 628 fewer Sure Start centres since 2010 - equivalent to losing three a week - says Labour:
The Department for Education disagrees. It's been quoted as saying just 76 such centres - which provide childcare, family support and health advice - have closed since 2010, and six have opened.
We've discussed similar stark differences between the two sides before. The difference, as then, is likely to be in how you define a 'closure'.
Labour's figures compare the number of Sure Start Centres that exist now to the number that existed just before the election. It found there were 3,631 Sure Start Centres in April 2010 which, compared to 28 February this year, (the latest published data) shows over 600 fewer centres. Labour's latest claim is based on more recent figures provided by freedom of information requests.
The government has said previously that this comparison isn't right, since it doesn't take into account reorganisations and mergers of existing centres:
"In many cases, there has simply been a merger of management with children's centre functions still being provided on the same number of sites. It would therefore be inaccurate and misleading to claim that these figures [Labour's at the time] show how many children's centres have 'closed' in each local authority."
By its latest count it found there are only 76 fewer on this measure.