East Sussex children's centres face closure in cash cutbacks

Young girl sitting in the street Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The proposed cutbacks would mean more home visits and fewer children's centres

Fourteen children's centres face closure and 13 youth clubs may lose public funding under a cash-strapped council's plans to slash spending.

East Sussex County Council, which needs to cut more than £5m from overall budgets in 2019/20 alone, is exploring ways to pare back children's services.

The closures are part of plans to give priority to more vulnerable families.

It is expected to save £2.6m by 2021 and there will be a public consultation before a final decision in the autumn.

The council has identified 14 centres which will close unless other providers can be found to operate them.

Services will be focused on fewer sites and some will in future be delivered at families' homes, while 13 youth clubs will lose funding, along with a number of creches and nurseries.

Council officer Liz Rugg, told councillors the proposals were not purely about axing services but "redesigning" some of them.

Analysis by Ben Weisz, Political reporter, BBC Sussex

These savings are a direct result of the continuing squeeze on local councils' funding and would leave hundreds of families across East Sussex with less than they had before.

But this is also about using what the council's got much more effectively. It says that means focusing on keyworkers visiting the most troubled families at home.

For now, it's over to the public to have its say before anything is set in stone.

Director of children's services Stuart Gallimore said the savings would provide focus on "families of greatest need and at greatest risk".

He told the BBC the council would be conducting a genuine consultation.

"We really want to hear from those who use the services... and we're also very keen to hear from community groups, volunteer groups, faith communities (about) what role they feel they might have... in terms of stepping in and potentially using some of the buildings that we will no longer need."

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