Mums won't forgive cuts to children's services

Written by Sharon Hodgson on 22 June 2011 in Opinion
In this month's point of order column, Sharon Hodgson MP lays out why the government should rethink the cuts to children's services

As the local election dust settles, candidates across the country are stowing away placards and analysing their returns.

But in this climate of cuts to services on which many people rely, politicians haven’t been the only ones on the campaign trail.

This government is politicising people as never before, as they see how decisions made in Whitehall actually do have an effect on their lives.

The March for the Alternative was a great example of this, bringing together people from all walks of life to oppose the government’s plans. But ministers should ignore one particular group of campaigners at their peril – mums.

Mums are, rightly, getting angry, as councils are forced to make cuts or closures to the highly-valued Sure Start network due to choices made by Michael Gove.

Research by Daycare Trust and 4Children suggests 250 Children’s Centres could go this year alone, with a majority having to pare back what they offer or make professional staff redundant.

Campaigns are springing up all over the place, but fragmented campaigns aren’t always successful – parents need to join together and take their fight from town hall to Whitehall.

On Mother’s Day, I joined a protest on Downing Street that had been organised by two mums from Lambeth. They had managed to bring together mums from across the country and amass a 50,000-strong petition against Sure Start cuts.

This was the first protest of its kind, but I know it won’t be the last. So, if I could give one piece of advice to Michael Gove, it would be this: mums won’t forgive or forget. Admit your mistake and get a grip on the Sure Start network you promised to protect.

Otherwise, you may find some ‘sharp elbows’ heading your way.

Sharon Hodgson is the Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West, and a Labour shadow education minister

Tags: Children's Services, Issue 37, Michael Gove, Point of order, Sharon hodgson

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