Children’s services in ongoing care shake-up

Hindley Children's Centre
Hindley Children's Centre

FAMILIES using the borough’s children’s centres will have to prepare for changes in the way they are run, Wigan Council is warning.

The Sure Start centres in Wigan should be reconfigured into five areas, with some buildings becoming specialised hubs and others sharing delivery of services, a council strategy document is advising.

The proposals, which have been put out to public consultation, will see all 20 facilities remaining open, but the council has said changes will have to be made to ensure provision is more efficient. This will see some centres pooling resources to jointly provide activities and others becoming spoke sites to share services with the hubs.

The changes form part of an ongoing review of social care due to spending cuts, with the budget available for running children’s centres being reduced by 25 per cent.

Hundreds of Wiganers took the opportunity to have their say on the future of children’s services in the borough, with more than 600 replies to the consultation being sent to the authority.

Announcing the end of the consultation, Wigan Council said residents had clearly indicated they wish to retain high-quality service which are local and accessible.

The authority also stressed its commitment to ensuring young Wiganers are supported and says it hopes to maintain current service levels.

Cabinet member for children and young people, Coun Susan Loudon, said: “It’s important that decisions like these are informed by those who use the service.

“We have no choice but to change the way we deliver services. The new hub and spoke model offers the best solution.”

The alterations to social care form part of a severe package of spending cuts at the town hall, which saw the local authority’s budget shrink by £24m last year and more cuts planned for 2015/16.