Tories have closed 1,300 family centres within the past decade

More than one in three Sure Start centres have been axed under the Tories, it has emerged.

Brutal cuts have seen 1,292 of the vital family centres shut since 2010, ministers admit.

Millions of parents rely on Sure Start, which offers clinics, and health and parenting support.

At their peak in 2009/10, there were 3,600 centres.

But Tory austerity slashed numbers by up to 85 per cent in some areas. In Staffs, 46 of 54 centres shut, and Oxfordshire lost 37 of its 45.

Experts believe the service eases pressure on the NHS. The Institute for Fiscal Studies calculated last year that Sure Start parenting and safety advice saved the NHS about £5million a year.

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Angela Rayner, Shadow Education Secretary and a deputy Labour leadership candidate, used them herself as a teenage single mum in the North West.

She said: “It’s an absolute tragedy. I’ll be fighting every step of the way.”

Action for Children estimates the number of kids using Sure Start fell 400,000 from 2.2million in 2014/5 to 1.8million in 2017/18.

The charity said: “Crucially, they’re often the first place to identify serious issues like abuse and neglect.”

Michelle Donelan, former minister for Children and Families, said ­councils were “reconfiguring services”.

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