Government "indifference" puts Sure Start success at risk - Alliance responds to report

An new report from the IFS has found that Sure Start’s benefits are strongest for children living in disadvantaged areas; that Sure Start significantly reduced hospitalisations among children by the time they finish primary school; and that Sure Start’s benefits are strongest for children living in disadvantaged areas.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said: 

“Few people with experience of Sure Start centres will be surprised by these findings because we’ve always understood the vital work they do. What is shocking, however, is the carelessness with which the government has treated these invaluable community assets. Successive ministers now have overseen the mismanaged decline of Sure Start. What began with a ‘temporary’ pause on inspections has led to hundreds of closures and forced dozens of centres to step back from delivering frontline services.”

 “If ministers were ever serious about social mobility then now would be the time to show it. This report makes clear what’s at stake and the government should be questioning where their indifference has left some of our most vulnerable children - and start reinvesting in and reaffirming their support for Sure Start immediately.”


Notes for Editors

Sure Start centres have struggled in recent years. 1,000 children’s centres have closed since 2009 and that many more have been reduced to husks; Ofsted inspections were put ‘on pause’ in September 2015 for planned consultation which was suspended indefinitely in 2018 before appearing to be reinstated earlier this year.

About the Alliance

  • The Early Years Alliance is the largest and most representative early years membership organisation in England. A registered educational charity, it also provides high-quality affordable childcare and education to support children and families in areas of deprivation throughout the country.
  • The Alliance represents 14,000 member settings and supports them to deliver care and learning to more than 800,000 families every year. We deliver family learning projects, offer information and advice, produce specialist publications, run acclaimed training programmes and campaign to influence early years policy and practice.
  • The Alliance website is