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Saturday, December 10, 2016
UK: vulnerable children pay price for debt-free future
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Thousands of vulnerable children will be the innocent victims of  “devastating cuts” in funding to the voluntary and community sector.

That is one of several key points raised in an open letter to Michael   Gove, Secretary of State for Education written by more than a dozen UK charities, including Spurgeons and the Children’s Society.

In particular, the letter highlights that:

- Although our generation has a responsibility to the next to clear the deficit, “some of the most vulnerable children will be asked to pay today, in order to achieve that debt-free future.”

- The 12 per cent cut to the Department for Education’s non-school budget will “deliver devastating cuts in funding to the voluntary and community sector.”

“Children’s and young people’s charities and community groups  are already experiencing deep cuts to their front-line services at local level. This will only be exacerbated by the 28 per cent cut in local authority grant, which includes a staggering 49 per cent cut in  
the projected budgets for children in care.”

Despite these cuts, as the coalition rolls back the state and  leaves thousands of vulnerable children without services, “the Big  Society vision is relying on us to be there to fill those gaps.”

FULL TEXT OF LETTER

Dear Secretary of State,

We write to register our deep concern about the cumulative effect of  cuts across government on the lives and futures of children, young  people and families, especially those in the most disadvantaged  communities where the combined effects of increased unemployment,  reduced benefits and the withdrawal of many public services will be profound.

While we welcome the news that your Department has secured funds for the protection of schools and pupil premium in particular, we are deeply concerned that the 12% reductions on non-school budgets is also likely to deliver devastating cuts in funding to the voluntary   and community sector.

More than half the charities registered with the Charity Commission have children and young people as their prime beneficiaries, and it is no accident that children’s charities are held in high esteem and great affection by the general public and local communities. People of all views and backgrounds seem able to unite behind the simple belief that children should not have to pay a life-long price for the circumstances they were born into, or the damaging decisions, mistakes and behaviours of the adult generation before them – be they parents, bankers or politicians. That belief underlies the charitable   missions of children’s voluntary organisations, large and small, across the country, in seeking to ensure that every child has the chance to reach their full potential. That same belief tells us that clearing the deficit is a responsibility we owe, as a generation, to all our children’s futures, and we know that involves many painful decisions.

We are deeply concerned, however, at the price that some of the most vulnerable children will be asked to pay today, in order to achieve that debt-free future. Pulling back state services and raising the thresholds for social work and other more expensive interventions will leave thousands of vulnerable children without services, unless we are there to fill the gaps. Indeed, The Big Society vision is relying on us to be there to fill those gaps, and this role will become even more important as cuts are implemented. In fact many of us are already meeting a significant increase in demand for our services from children, young people and families, as belts tighten, redundancies hit, and family pressures and anxieties increase.

Voluntary groups have a track record in providing effective, excellent value for money, preventative, ‘stitch in time’ services, but many children’s and young people’s charities and community groups are already experiencing deep cuts to their front-line services at local level. This will only be exacerbated by the 28% cut in local authority grant, which includes a staggering 49% cut in the projected budgets for children in care. We support some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people –  young carers, looked after children, teenage parents, families struggling in poverty, with   addiction, mental health problems and relationship breakdown.

Our sector provides the kind of serious and sustained family support that can prevent problems escalating to child protection cases, just as it often provides the individual support to parents, children and young people, without which many would not even attend school, let alone be able to benefit from the pupil premium or other education reforms prioritised by the Coalition Government.

We are not creatures of political or economic expediency; we are committed to children, young people and their families for the long haul, with many of our organisations in their second or more century of service, and we are asking you too to take the long view. Severe cuts to the sector will seriously damage the mixed economy of public services and the increase in self help within communities that Government is so keen to see. While we acknowledge the benefit of the one year £100m transition fund within the Cabinet Office, this will not mitigate the effects of decommissioning and the time frames commissioners need to reframe services.

Some valued and effective organisations will not be able to survive this combination of churn and cuts to take advantage of the Government’s promised opportunities to serve communities in the future.

There is still time for you to act. In the weeks which follow the CSR announcement we are asking you to lead by example, following the Prime Minister in acknowledging and providing tangible support to the children and young people’s voluntary sector, so that we can provide the family and community based support children and young people need to thrive and achieve.

Yours sincerely,

Liz Bayram, National Child Minding Association
Norma Brier, Norwood
Jeremy Cripps, Children North East
Helen Hibbert, Partnership for Young London
Carol Homden, Coram
Tim Jeffery, Spurgeons
Maggie Jones, Children England
John Kemmis, Voice
David Marriott, Together Trust
Russell Norman, Howgill Family Centre
Bob Reitemeier, The Children’s Society
Shane Ryan, Working with Men
Robert Tapsfield, Fostering Network
Keith White, Mill Grove

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Tags: Children’s Society., open letter Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, Spurgeons


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