£7.5million cuts will hit children in Hartlepool

Government funding for children's services in Hartlepool is expected to be cut by £7.5million by 2020.

Tuesday, 1st March 2016, 5:00 am
Hartlepool Civic Centre

A report published by charities Action For Children, National Children’s Bureau and the Children’s Society has revealed that Hartlepool Borough Council’s budget could be cut by 73%.

It states that the town was given £10,313,983 to spend on children’s services for the year 2010-11, but projects that by 2019-20, that figure will fall to £2,811,837.

The ‘Losing in the long run’ report from the charities questions the sustainability of further cuts and examines the amount of money central government is giving to local authorities for early intervention services.

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Children’s centres, teenage pregnancy support, short breaks for disabled children, information and advice for young people and family support are some of the vital services that are affected by the cuts.

Coun Chris Simmons, chairman of the Hartlepool Borough Council’s Children’s Services Committee, said: “These figures demonstrate the significant cuts in Government funding and this is placing extreme pressure on the council to maintain vital services to the children of our town.

“For 2016/17 we’ve been able to protect the vast majority of frontline services with the use of one-off resources but with further cuts in Government funding in future years our task of maintaining early intervention services is going to get increasingly difficult.”

A survey of 20 local authority councillors in the North East revealed that 56% are worried that a reduction in government funding will mean a reduction in these services. This is despite the vast majority – 94% – of councillors saying that early intervention is a high priority for their local community.

Although councils will gradually gain some new powers to raise revenue to pay for services through taxes collected from local businesses, 74% believe that it will be impossible to maintain current levels of spending on early support.

Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said: “Before making further cuts, we urge the government to consider the long-term decline in how we support these services and, in turn, the severe consequences it has for the children and families that rely on them.”

John Egan, director of children’s services across the North East, said: “Central governments have hacked away at the budget for early help which has had a devastating effect on local authority spend to support families across the North East.

“We are set to see further reductions precisely when need is rapidly rising which is simply short-sighted. Intervening when a crisis occurs instead of working at an early stage to prevent it from happening, has a devastating cost both in social and financial terms.”