Youngsters hardest hit by cuts

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NEW figures reveal that children in Hartlepool will be among the hardest hit by Government cuts.

Funding in Hartlepool for services such as Sure Start Centres and childcare is being slashed by an average of £90 per child, compared to a North-East average of £75 and national average of £50.

From April, Hartlepool Borough Council’s Early Intervention Grant (EIG) will be cut from £8.8m to £6.9m.

That includes a £694,000 cut to the Sure Start Centre funding, although officers have said they do not have any plans to close centres this year.

Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said: “Early Intervention services like Sure Start Children’s Centres work with families to improve health, education and life chances.

“These services will be lost for years and this country will pay the price in terms of unfulfilled potential, poorer economic growth and halting social mobility for generations.”

Conservative councillor Ray Wells, vice-chairman of the children’s services scrutiny forum, has written to Prime Minister David Cameron to outline concerns about the cuts, as previously reported by the Mail.

Coun Wells said: “While we sympathise with the Government for having to make cuts, we also feel the cuts should be evenly spread throughout all local authorities.

“While we are Conservatives, our first priority is to the residents of the town.

‘‘Therefore we oppose cuts that are higher for Hartlepool children.”

House of Commons Library figures show Hartlepool and Middlesbrough face cuts of £90 per child.

compared to Sunderland and Redcar & Cleveland which face cuts of £80 per child and County Durham which will see funding cut by £60 per child.

Children’s minister Sarah Teather previously said the new EIG gives local authorities the “freedom and flexibility” to make decisions in their areas.