Funding call amid concerns over cuts to children’s centres

The rise in violent crime is being fuelled by huge government cuts to services that support families and young children, the West Midlands Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner has said.

Assistant Crime Commissioner Tom McNeil
Assistant Crime Commissioner Tom McNeil

Tom McNeil wants an urgent injection of funds for the region after finding out that the number of children’s centres has more than halved in the last decade.

Some have shut completely, whilst others have seen services reduced.

Children’s centres provide help to young families by offering parenting support or advice on financial, domestic abuse or drink and drug issues.

In 2010 there were 189 council run children’s centres across Birmingham, the Black Country, Coventry and Solihull, but by 2021 that number had tumbled to just 75.

The decline coincides with a rise in violent crime.

Mr McNeil said that leading a successful life, including doing well in education and employment and avoiding crime, requires young people to have the right kind of support in their early years, and evidence has shown the effectiveness of children's centres in improving health and education outcomes.

He is concerned that as services which support the most disadvantaged people disappear, some will be unable to get the support they need and struggle to cope.

And he is now calling on the government to urgently provide funding in order to reverse the cuts of the last 13 years.

“We know that for many families the support offered by children’s centres is vital if they are to thrive and survive,” said Mr McNeil.

“Issues like domestic abuse, mental ill-health and poverty can result in problems with child development and, if not supported, young people can go on to be drawn into gangs and criminality, fuelling violent crime.

“These centres offer many of our most disadvantages families a vital lifeline and that is why I am deeply concerned about the huge government cuts to these services over the last 13 years.

“While I welcome new government funding for family hubs, it is a drop in the ocean compared to the almost £2 billion in cuts over the last 10 years, especially when coupled with the huge cuts to youth services, education and mental health services.”

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