Child centres that support vulnerable families could be forced to close due to government cuts.

A public consultation on proposed changes will be launched next week, if Redbridge Council’s cabinet approves it.

The authority says it wants to protect services as far as possible, but warns government cuts have placed huge pressure on its finances.

The borough currently has eight main ‘hub’ child centres and 13 satellite centres offering free services including family support, early education, family health services and help with going back to or finding work.

The centres have remained open to date despite a £166 million or 50 per cent cut to the authority’s overall budget.

As part of the consultation, Redbridge Council has suggested the following measures to ensure as much of the service is protected as possible, whilst ensuring budgets are maintained:

• Convert one hub, Aldersbrook, into a satellite centre

• Close satellite centres that are underused

• Charge for some activities with low-income families continuing to access services for free

• Charge partners, such as the NHS, for use of the centres when they put on sessions

• Changes to staffing, including reducing the number of managers

The council has said it is “determined” to keep at least seven full hub centres open, despite “huge pressure” on its finances.

No changes will be made until a 12-week consultation, which will begin on December 12 if approved next week, has ended and views expressed in the review are taken into account.

Cllr Elaine Norman, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “We know that our children’s centres are highly valued by the families that use them, which is why we have worked really hard to ensure irresponsible central government cuts have not impacted on these services like elsewhere.

“But the sustained financial pressures created by funding reductions requires some rethinking of our delivery so that we can retain as many services as possible for parents and their children.

“We want to hear the views of families, services providers and members of the public about the options, as well as their own ideas, before making a final decision on how we best create a sustainable children’s centre service.”