County council agree major changes to children’s centres that will save £900,000
- Credit: Archant
Jobs will go and some children’s centres will close as county councillors voted to cut £900,000 from their budget that had previously supported a county wide network.
A council spokesman said the plans were to “focus funding on increased outreach services for children and families in Cambridgeshire”,
The spokesman said this would be achieved by reducing spend on building maintenance.
The proposals were approved on Tuesday “after a full and wide ranging debate by with strong views shared on both sides” said the spokesman.
Councillors voted 31 to 22, to support proposals, which look to change children’s centre services from next April.
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The council spokesman claimed it would “create a more flexible, targeted and responsive service delivered from 27 buildings supported by increased outreach services”.
The decision followed a debate on the response to a ten week consultation from 2280 people - the largest response to a Cambridgeshire County Council consultation and one of the largest for a children’s centre consultation across the country.
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The spokesman said that having reviewed the consultation responses, the plans now include more outreach services sited in areas across the county, including the southern part of Cambridge City. This change will see £100,000 of a planned £1million saving re-invested in the service.
Following the change £4.3million will continue to be spent on the new child and family centre services, complementing early help services of the council, which have an additional budget of £7.2 million.
Councillor Simon Bywater, chairman of the children’s committee, said: “We have listened carefully to what people have been saying during the consultation and I want to reassure people we will continue to listen as we begin to implement these proposals.
“I recognise that feelings have run high during this debate, but I now call on all councillors, partners and communities to come together to help take these plans forward so we can fulfil the ambition of creating a service for more families to get the right help, at the right time and in the right place.
“Today’s decision means we remain heavily committed to early intervention for families, something we believe is essential. The new service is intended to be embedded alongside our district early help teams, health and other community services providing a flexible, targeted and responsive service in order to meet the needs of a rapidly changing and growing county.”
The council spokesman said that overall “respondents to the consultation supported the key ambitions of the proposals”.
These were, said the spokesman, that funding should be directed towards those most in need, that services should be co-located with partners such as health wherever possible, and that the services should be widened to support families with children aged 0 -19.
Councillor Samantha Hoy, vice chairman of the children and young people committee, added: “Children’s centre services across the country are changing to help them meet the needs of our most vulnerable families, who remain our top priority. “Our plans are very much in line with those of other counties who, like us, also have reducing budgets for a whole range of services where demand continues to grow. The council is sending a strong message to Government that the long-term underfunding of large rural counties like ours cannot continue as part of our fairdeal4Cambs campaign.”