U-turn on Children’s Fund budget cuts

Charities have given a cautious welcome to the £20m found
by the Department for Education and Skills to save the
Children’s Fund from a 15 per cent budget cut in the next
financial year, writes Clare Jerrom.

While applauding the news that the budget for 2004/5 will now be
reduced by just £4.6m from the original £164.6m promised,
charities remain concerned about the 2005-6 budget and funding
post-2006 when the government’s current funding commitment

Chris Hanvey, Barnardo’s director of operations, warned
that programmes did not want to find themselves in the same
position next year.

NCH’s interim chief executive Maurice Rumbold added that
charities wanted clarification that the Children’s
Fund’s preventive work would continue beyond 2006.

News of the £20m reprieve is the latest twist in a tale
which began in December when Children, Young People and Families
Directorate director Tom Jeffery wrote to programme managers
admitting to mistakes in the Children’s Fund’s central
financial management and warning of future cuts (news, page 10, 8

Children’s Fund director Kathy Bundred then sent a letter
to programme managers last month confirming cuts of £50m over
the next two years – a cut of 15 per cent to £140m in
2004-5 and of 30 per cent to £110m in 2005-6 (news, 5 February
page 8).

In the latest u-turn, in a letter seen by Community Care’s
sister magazine 0-19, Anne Weinstock, director of the DfES’s
Supporting Children and Young People Group said that “new
resources” had been identified from outside the
Children’s Fund which would take the budget for 2004-5 to
£160m. However, she said decisions around allocations for
2005-6 would not be revealed until the summer.

Bristol programme manager Tony Benjamin said the DfES had shown
a lack of consideration to programme managers in its communication
of events, which had amounted to “a series of unpredictable,
long-awaited, devastating bulletins”.

Hanvey added that the uncertainty had placed great pressure on
staff and services and “undermined the trust between
government and voluntary organisations”.


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