Saturday, 19 November 2011

Manchester’s Surestart Consultations: A flawed argument

Hulme Greens recently commented on the news that the Council was to cut funding to Manchester’s Sure Start services. These cuts were happening against a back drop of high local child poverty and riots in the city.

As the Council moves forward with its plans, it has started a consultation process outlining its reasons for the Sure Start cuts, proposals for the future, a questionnaire and series of public events.

The extensive public consultations are to be commended, with events over 2 months covering most of the Sure Start venues in the city. (It also helpfully published a Directory of Support for Parents and Carers.)

But Manchester City Council’s arguments put forward for the cuts and the scope of the consultations are misleading and ‘unhelpful’. Its ‘Why are we proposing changes?’ page states

“We need to:

  • Increase the number of families that access the services available (currently less than a third of families in Manchester)
  • Make better use of the buildings we have so they deliver a wider range of services and attract more people to use them
  • Identify those families and children who need extra help (especially children aged 0-3 years) more accurately and quickly to ensure that more children enter school ready to thrive, and more families, parents and carers are supported into work. ”

The first line suggests the 40 Sure Start Centres in the city are under-used and inefficient especially as they are used by ‘less than a third of families in Manchester’.

Though open to all families, the POINT of Sure Start is to help the poorest families in society, to help break the cycle of deprivation and it is recognized as an attempt to do so (page 10).

This is especially important as Manchester is recognized as the ‘child poverty capital of Britain’. Framing Sure Start as a service aimed at all families is wrong and the Council is wrong to do so.

The second line specifically mentions the Sure Start buildings above and again in the questionnaires. At the moment, these are exclusively used for Sure Start and related services. This may not be the case by the end of this process and it is important that these buildings primarily do the job they were built for.

The two areas NOT up for negotiation/ consultation are the

  • increase in childcare fees (from £126 to £150 per week) by nearly 20%
  • reduction of funded childcare provision by 50% to 15 hours per week, the legal minimum.

The combination of these 2 actions will exclude the very families Sure Start was created to support.

Will Manchester City Council makes public what the effects of cutting these services will be and how its proposed outreach service will mitigate these effects?

Having a consultation which leaves out the important aspects of a service so important to the long term health of the city is short sighted and unsafe.

The national concern of the effect the Sure Start cuts will have are especially applicable to Manchester.

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Saturday, 8 October 2011

October Events 2011: Hulme and Manchester

Below are some events happening in Hulme and further afield.

If there anything you think we should add in, let us know.

We hope to produce an events list monthly now.

October 2011


Saturday October 23rd

Hulme Community Gardens, Apple and Pumpkin Day

October 2011

Debdale EcoCentre/ Hulme Community Gardens

October 2011


October 2011

Zion Arts Centre


Thursday October 13th 7pm

Manchester Green Party Monthly: HS2 Debate, Squatting Rights and Spaces

Friday October 14th and 15th

City Camp Mcr

Wednesday October 19th , 7pm

Hunger for Justice,

Mechanics Institute

October 2011

Unicorn Events


Friday October 7th – 17th

Food and Drink Festival

Monday October 10th – 23rd

Manchester Literature Festival

Black History Month

Wednesday 12th October, 5.30–7.00pm

Who do you think you are?

Rani Moorthy, Salford University

Saturday 15th October, 2 -4pm

Manchester Libraries

Wednesday 19th October , 12.30 – 5.30pm

Racism: A symposium on Discrimination, Displacement and Home

Thursday 20th October

– 6.30pm

Malcolm X Visits Abroad – lecture by Marika Sherwood

Wednesday 26th October, 7.00pm

Empire Pays Back, Dr. Robert Beckford, Salford University

Thursday October 27th

Arun Ghosh, Band on the Wall

October 2011

Contact Theatre


October 2011 -

Occupy Manchester!/search/realtime/occupymcr

Sunday October 9th

Block The Bridge, London

Saturday, October 15th

Occupy London Stock Exchange

Saturday November 5th

Remember, Remember… Houses of Parliament, London

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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

True Mancunians, SureStart and Youth Services

Six weeks after the riots, comes news from Manchester City Council (MCC) confirming it will cut funding to the city’s SureStart centres.

With one of the main factors suggested for the cause of the riots being poverty and with rioters coming from high deprivation areas, this is particularly bad news.

But what is Surestart? “Sure Start was part of a Labour government policy to prevent social exclusion, and as such, it was targeted at preschool children and their families in disadvantaged areas. The initiative was the result of a cross cutting review of services for young children chaired by the Treasury. The review's conclusions focused on the importance of the early years for child development, and highlighted the problems of multiple disadvantage for young children, the variation in quality of services for children and families and the need for community-based programmes of early intervention.”

The Labour government eventually devolved responsibility and money for the programme to local councils. This money however, was not ring-fenced and now with the Coalition government budget cuts forced on the Council, MCC has decided to withdraw funding from Manchester SureStart centres.

The Council has done this despite Manchester being named the child poverty capital of Britain, with over 25000 children growing up in ‘severe poverty’. In percentage terms, it is twice the number of neighbours Trafford and Stockport.

On top of this, Manchester has massively cut its youth services provision when the number of young people not in employment, education or training is on the rise. With these actions, the Council is abandoning young people as avenues for employment, further education and higher education for young people are being cut back.

This Council’s attitude has not been to support the people of the city, or to support their services. Its attitude has been to focus on regeneration and business. It can be seen in the comments of Council Leader Richard Leese, in response to a question on whether putting regeneration ahead of services was the right thing to do. It can be seen in the £2 million recent acquisition of land around MCC’s swanky new First Street offices.

This ‘leadership’ does Manchester no favours. With the high levels of deprivation in this city, it is imperative to try and maintain services to the most vulnerable. MCC should be addressing these issues alongside encouraging business development not instead of it.

The Council’s claims that there is ‘no other way’ of progressing should be taken with a bowl of salt. This year it has made drastic decisions on services and jobs which have THEN been followed by ‘consultations’. The Youth services and Surestart cuts have been prime examples of this. The Equality Impact Assessment requirements have happened AFTER cuts have been made. Why?

And of those consultations, have any of the results been made public?

The other side this is about democracy and representation. No Labour Councillor has stood up against the cuts to Manchester Youth and Surestart. Maybe too scared or weak to speak its mind, the body of the local Labour party is one that has forgotten its progressive left roots. The Council spin-doctors in fact even accused the Manchester Save SureStart Mums campaign as ‘hi-jacking’ the issue.

Is this the representation of democracy in Manchester?

The Conservatives and the Labour Council share this in common, both are making a CHOICE to cut essential services in Manchester. And before Labour complain, if they CHOOSE to spend over £2 million on land around their new town hall building instead of putting that money into keeping a some Surestarts open until things turn around, it says more than words.

Hulme Green Party stands against the Council on these cuts. We support the Save SureStart campaigns both locally and nationally.

We stand with the Manchester Coalition Against the Cuts in defending Manchester’s services.

In the wake of the riots, MCC ran the ‘I heart Manchester’ campaign, aimed at getting shoppers back spending money in the city centre. NOT pulling together community spirit, volunteering, supporting local communities in need, their campaign was aimed at shoppers.

Within that intense period, Council spokesman Pat Karney talked about ‘true Mancunians’ supporting the city.

The thing about Manchester, it has a strong history of protest and radical reform.

In keeping with this tradition, the ‘Save Manchester SureStart’ campaigners, Manchester Coalition Against the Cuts, BARAC Manchester, Manchester AntiCuts, Greater Manchester Against the Cuts, the Manchester Unemployed Workers Union, the students of both Manchester University and Metropolitan University and many more, are all closer to the spirit of being ‘True Mancunians’ than any merchandise-heavy shopping campaign by Council fat cats will ever tell us.

Hulme is home to both a SureStart (Martenscroft) , youth facilities and a library. Proctor’s Youth Centre has closed, Hulme Adventure Playground under threat. Our SureStart will be affected with all the other centres in Manchester and Hulme library building is about to be closed.

That being so, we have our own campaign. If a decision to cut services hurts the most vulnerable in our communities, it doesn’t matter if it comes from right-wing government or ‘left’-wing Council.

I “heart” Manchester Surestart – Don’t Cut It

I “heart” Mcr Libraries – Keep Them Open

I “heart” Hulme (of course)


If anyone wants to use the logos included in this post in a positive way, for a positive cause, go ahead.

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