Family support charity takes its fight to the seat of county power

Protestors against cuts to council funding for Home-Start Lincolnshire outside a meeting of Lincolnshire County Council's children and young people's scrutiny committee in Lincoln.  Photo by kind courtesy of LincsFM.
Protestors against cuts to council funding for Home-Start Lincolnshire outside a meeting of Lincolnshire County Council's children and young people's scrutiny committee in Lincoln. Photo by kind courtesy of LincsFM.
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Volunteers and staff fighting to protect a family support charity from the loss of council funding have protested against the move.

Supporters of Home-Start Lincolnshire staged a protest outside a meeting of Lincolnshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s scrutiny committee on Friday in an attempt to stave off the total loss of cash support.

The group, made up of Home-Start South Holland in Holbeach St Marks and seven other schemes across Lincolnshire, supported about 240 families in the county last year with guidance on physical and mental health, finance and housing difficulties, children’s behavioural issues and domestic abuse.

Mary Hutson, senior co-ordinator at Home-Start South Holland, said: “All of the schemes in Lincolnshire are working very closely together to ensure that Home-Start Lincolnshire will survive in the future and how we can work more efficiently and more effectively as a countywide service.

“We are a charitable organisation and charities generally are very cost-effective, but we are looking at ways of becoming more cost-effective and to build up our funding strength.

“In terms of South Holland, we are Big Lottery Fund-supported so the reduction in council funding can be absorbed by the group,

All of the schemes in Lincolnshire are working very closely together to ensure that Home-Start Lincolnshire will survive in the future and how we can work more efficiently and more effectively as a countywide service.

Home-Start senior co-ordinator Mary Hutson

“But whilst we fully understand the county council has to make cost savings, we are seeing services cut across the board and by giving preventative services less or no money at all, it will cost more to stop families entering into crises.

“The fewer family support services that are out there, the more children will be at risk.”

The council has to find £120 million worth of savings over the next three years, on top of the £150 million worth of savings already made since 2010.

Coun Patricia Bradwell, executive member for children’s services, said: ““In this difficult financial climate when we have to find substantial savings, we have to prioritise essential, frontline services, which has meant that Home-Start will no longer receive funding from the county council.

“The contract with Home-Start has reached its natural end and we have had to review what is provided, as we do with all our contracts.

“We recognise groups like Home-Start provide good support to many people, but this isn’t one of our statutory services and we have to protect frontline children’s services such as safeguarding, fostering and adoption, ahead of any other funding support we give.

“We have also been supporting other providers of similar services in the market to promote their offers and our children’s centres will continue to provide good support for families and their children.”