Cuts to children’s service is a ‘tragedy’

A service which provides support to vulnerable families with young children is to be axed, it was confirmed this week.

Thursday, 16th July 2015, 11:10 am
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Herts County Council expects to save £390,000 by axing the HomeStart service from September, which targets families who need the most help at an early stage.

The council cabinet voted through the plans on Monday, although they also agreed to set aside £200,000 to help the transition.

But opposition leaders have branded the move short-sighted and bad news for the county’s most vulnerable families.

Councillor Mark Watkin, Liberal Democrat spokesman for children’s services, said: “The tragedy is that the county council has decimated an outstanding service.

“The Conservatives have totally misrepresented the cost savings this decision will achieve, and have condemned these hard to reach families to a very bleak future.

“What is unforgivable is that HomeStart knew that the county council wanted to reduce its expenditure and had prepared a business plan to achieve this but were never given the chance to present it.”

Councillor Richard Roberts, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We will continue to work with our partners in health, community groups and the voluntary sector to help parents give their children the best possible start in life.

“Our 82 children’s centres offer targeted support to parents of the 76,972 children under the age of five. With more than 90 per cent of families registered with their local children’s centre, they are perfectly placed to help families who need support the most.

“And for those who do not feel able to attend a children’s centre, there are outreach services which include visits at home.”