Wycombe Labour have slammed plans to close children’s centres in Bucks, urging the council to rethink the proposals.

It was announced in March that Buckinghamshire County Council plans to close 19 of the 35 centres in the county.

Following the release of a report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, Wycombe Labour Party have called on the council to reconsider their decision ‘as evidence emerges that children’s centres deliver clear and substantive health benefits.’

Khalil Ahmed, Labour parliamentary candidate for Wycombe said ‘This is clear evidence that access to Children’s Centres can help to reduce the wide gap in children’s hospitalisation that exists between richer and more deprived wards.

“Bucks County Council needs to take the evidence from the IFS report and ensure that less advantaged areas like Micklefield, Terriers and Castlefield don’t lose out. Children’s Centres across Wycombe must stay open and accessible for local people.”

Labour county councillor Majid Hussain said: “It makes no sense to close Bucks Children’s Centres when there is an overwhelmingly positive case to keep them open for Bucks poorer families. In October 2018, the Early Intervention Foundation stated that ‘universal services and support will remain vital, not least because they provide a means to identify children and families in need of extra support.

“The evidence provided by the IFS suggests that universal support is effective, and that BCC should save our Children’s Centres to better support Wycombe families. I will continue to oppose these heartless cuts in every way at my disposal.”

Cllr Warren Whyte, cabinet member from children’s services, said: “The report compiled by the Institute for Fiscal Studies made for interesting and valuable reading.

“We are changing the way we help children and families in Buckinghamshire by turning some of our children’s centres into new Family Centres as part of our new Family Support Service which starts in September.

“Our approach for the new service is backed up by the findings of this report, which concluded that one-way councils can manage budget cuts is to focus services in disadvantaged areas – which are more likely to benefit from them. The report also recommended that councils think about “which types of services and models of provision could most effectively help this group.”

“This is precisely the approach we are adopting with the new Family Support Service. We will be providing much more targeted support to families who need it most in the places where we know we haven’t been reaching them well enough already.

“Our Family Centres will be in the areas where they will have the most impact, building a support team around families who need our help the most.”