Hertfordshire faces huge government funding cut to services which support children
PUBLISHED: 07:05 09 March 2016 | UPDATED: 09:12 09 March 2016
Funding for services which support children is expected to be cut by 69 per cent, leaving people without the help that often stops problems spiralling out of control.
Government funding for services supporting children is expected to be cut by 69 per cent, with fears this will leave people without the help that often stops problems spiralling out of control.
Grants from Whitehall for early intervention services in Herts are expected to be cut from £47,663,569 in 2010-11 to £14,993,090 in 2019-20.
Children’s centres, teenage pregnancy support, short breaks for disabled children, and family support are some of the services that could be affected by the cuts.
Herts County Council has already stopped funding family support charity Home-Start for its home visiting service, saving £390,000 a year.
This is despite nearly 3,000 people signing a petition to save the service, which is used by 395 struggling families with young children in the county.
Father Hugh Beardesmore Billings, from Hitchin, said his family relied on Home-Start support after his daughter was severely injured during birth.
He said: “There is no doubt whatsoever that without Home-Start we would not be where we are today. Nobody who has had need of Home-Start would ever doubt the volunteers’ commitment or value.”
Peter Grigg from The Children’s Society said: “This and previous governments have claimed to be committed to early intervention, yet this rhetoric is not matched by investment in the very services that can prevent future spending on picking up the pieces.
“In presiding over a cut this huge, the government is risking the future of early intervention as we know it. This will have real long-term consequences for children’s health, education and futures.
“The government should prioritise funding to make sure councils can maintain these essential services.”
Councillor Richard Roberts, responsible for children’s services at County Hall, said: “We are continuing to invest in early help. For example, we have managed to keep all 82 children’s centres in the county open, we have an excellent Youth Connexions service and Targeted Youth Service which was recently praised by Ofsted and our Thriving Families programme works in partnership with other agencies to help vulnerable families to turn their lives around.
“Intervening early helps to tackle problems before they become more serious, reducing the need for our services rather than the services themselves. This is better for residents and cheaper for the public purse.
“We are in a position to fund early help thanks to our prudent financial management and drive towards efficiency and value for money. This is despite central government reducing its contribution to local authorities in its efforts to tackle the national deficit, and the county council having to fund a growing and ageing population and additional costs such as inflation and landfill tax.”