Political

I appear to have missed the Labour congratulations

Remember how Labour predicted with absolute confidence that the Tories would axe Sure Start centres?

So the news that in fact they’re protected for this year is presumably grounds for congratulating the Liberal Democrats for successfully changing Conservative policy as part of the coalition.

Only thing is, I seemed to have missed those congratulations.

Oh well. Perhaps Labour’s talk about how important the Sure Start centres are was just for show and they don’t really think they’re that important after all …

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12 responses to “I appear to have missed the Labour congratulations”

  1. Nice try, but no. Straw man. Labour didn’t claim that Sure Start would be cut this year. The Sure Start cuts claim comes from a Tory document from 2008 which proposed taking £200m out of Sure Start to pay for 4,200 health visitors, but which only identified a £79m budget within Sure Start to cover this. I don’t think anyone ever imagined that this policy would start in the middle of a financial year, so this was never thought of as an immediate cut. The health visitor policy is in the coalition agreement, although the Tories recently got cold feet about funding the whole lot out of Sure Start cuts and decided to pay for part of it with unspecified DH money. Some of it still seems to be Sure Start though.

    The argument about cuts this year came much later, and wasn’t about Sure Start – the Tories only said they’d make immediate £6bn cuts at the end of March. Sure Start never featured in the argument about this proposal, because it wasn’t included in it (although the Labour and Lib Dem argument that you can’t find £6bn of back office savings this year appears to have been vindicated).

    So no, I don’t credit or congratulate the Lib Dems for changing the Tories’ policy on Sure Start, because I don’t see any evidence that the policy has changed. If we see year on year increases in Sure Start funding once the coalition is in a position to set its own budgets, then yes, I’m sure the Lib Dems will deserve some credit. As it is, I’d rather they didn’t attempt to take credit for something not happening that the Tories always said wouldn’t happen this year anyway.

    I’m very happy, though, to credit the Lib Dems right now with the decision to scrap the Child Trust Fund for the poorest third of families and for disabled children, which the Tories ruled out in their manifesto. Thanks, David Laws!

  2. Anon: I guess you’ve seen different Labour leaflets from the ones I’ve seen, as they painted a rather different picture from the one you’ve laid out.

  3. I guess I have. I’d be interested to see Labour leaflets that specifically alleged in year cuts to Sure Start in 2010-11, though (genuinely – if they’re on the Straight Choice or something, that would be great). As I say, in the longer term I expect Sure Start to be cut.

    Incidentally, you’ll remember that the Tory argument was that £6bn could be found without affecting frontline services, on top of some cuts to the Child Trust Fund, tax credits and advertising budgets. Since today’s announcement fails to protect frontline services, and only makes it to £6bn by including greater cuts to the CTF than the Tories proposed, I think that makes the Lib Dems and Labour right and the Tories wrong. If the Tories had been right, then there would have been absolutely no need for today’s announcement to flag up the fact that schools, Sure Start and 16-19 education was being protected this year (and, as I say, this year only).

  4. The Labour Party’s ‘Save our sure start’ Facebook group says:
    “The Conservatives have said they would cut spending by £6bn within the first few months of a new Conservative government. The Conservatives have been clear that Sure Start is not safe from these cuts. Cuts on this scale would mean £1.7bn coming from the Department for Children Schools and Families budget which includes Sure Start.”

  5. I’d be interested to see Labour leaflets that specifically alleged in year cuts to Sure Start in 2010-11

    Do you really think that these leaflets were than sophisticated or that a majority of people would think in such a way?

    No, it was just blanket `oh Sure Start is not safe with the Lib Dems` – so where are the apologies?

  6. John, that leaflet does not allege in-year cuts to Sure Start. It says the Tories would put Sure Start centres at risk of cuts. Not the smoking gun you think it is.

    Brian, the Facebook group does make a claim that Sure Start isn’t necessarily safe this year – and it does seem to have been ringfenced now in a way that it wasn’t before. Two points on this, though:
    1) While the Tories refused to explicitly protect Sure Start this year, they also said that they could make £6bn of savings from back office and non-frontline services. Labour and the Lib Dems said they were wrong, and they were wrong, and theyhave had to introduce a new ringfence for the Dept of Education for this year to compensate for their optimism about the extent of wasteful government spending.
    2) Given 1, what have the Lib Dems got to do with it? Seriously, why should we be thanking the Lib Dems and not, say, thanking the Tories (who also did not want to cut Sure Start this year) or, say, focusing on the fact that the Lib Dems have provided cover for a cut to the Child Trust Fund which is deeper than anything the Tories proposed?

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