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Mid Worcestershire MP Peter Luff has today condemned claims by Ed Balls, Labour’s Children, Schools and Families Secretary, that the Conservative party plans to close one in five Sure Start centres.

Commenting, Peter Luff said,

“Here we go – the fist big dishonesty of the election campaign. Mr Balls should be ashamed of himself. There is not a shred of truth in his allegation, appearing on Worcestershire newspaper websites today, that my party will close Sure Stare centres.

“It is precisely because we want to support families that Sure Start centres will not be closed under a new Conservative government. I have seen for myself the immensely valuable work done by the centre in Droitwich and I know that other centres around the county also offer an outstanding service that is rightly highly valued in the communities where they work. To drag these centres into the election debate so cynically and untruthfully is a cheap stunt that I deplore. Mr Balls should be ashamed of himself.”

Maria Miller, MP for Basingstoke and Conservative shadow minister for this issue, has made the following public statement today in response to Mr Balls’ smear

“We support Sure Start Children’s Centres and believe they will play a crucial role in making Britain one of the most family-friendly countries in Europe. Labour is guilty of spreading scare stories about Tories cutting Sure Start. It is shameful that parents and Sure Start staff are being worried and misled in this way.

“We support Sure Start but know that it needs to work more effectively in the future. We have already announced how a Conservative Government will strengthen Sure Start through a universal Sure Start Health Visitor service. This will be funded with money from Health and extra money already set aside by the Government to strengthen out reach to vulnerable families.

“Our plans will give parents the professional health visitor support they need in the crucial early years of their child’s life. Health visitors are also more effective at reaching out to the poorest and most vulnerable families.

“We believe voluntary organisations, with a proven track record in supporting families, should be more involved in managing centres and providing services. Paying centres partially on the results they achieve will also help incentivise better “management in Sure Start centres and increase the focus on delivering better family support which was what Sure Start was originally designed for.

“We believe that our plans for Sure Start will help centres up and down the country in the work they are doing to support families and thereby give children the best start in life.”


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