Children’s services provided by the voluntary and community sector are “under threat” as more than two-thirds of organisations face funding cuts, a survey by the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action has found.
Kevin Curley, NAVCA chief executive, said while the government was encouraging voluntary and community sector involvement in delivery of children’s services, local spending decisions were “going against the grain.”
Just over half of organisations said services previously delivered by them had been taken in-house by councils over the last 12 months, with 40% reporting councils’ efficiency savings as the single greatest cause of cuts.
The cuts could lead to the “potentially irreversible” loss of children’s services provided by the voluntary and community sector, the survey of 173 organisations in England and Wales found.
Nearly eight out of ten organisations also believed that competitive tendering involving in-house bids “lacked either fairness or transparency, or both.”
The survey, covering the last 12 months, also found preventive children’s services were being hardest hit, with only one organisation reporting an increase in local investment in them.
A spokesperson from the Local Government Association said councils were “having to make hard choices” because of “difficult” financial settlements and the need to meet Gershon efficiency targets.
She added:” The challenge for local government and the sector over the next five years is to develop capacity with local voluntary and community projects so that they can participate in every aspect of the commissioning process and can be supported to tender as necessary on a level playing field with other organisations.”
Information on children’s services