Cash found to allay planned cuts but charities still cautious about future

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.

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 that 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.

While applauding the news that the budget for 2004-5 would 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 financial 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, said charities
wanted clarification that the Children’s Fund’s preventive work
would continue beyond 2006.

News of the £20m 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 January).

Children’s Fund director Kathy Bundred then wrote to programme
managers confirming cuts of £50m over the next two years,
including a 30 per cent cut to the £110m budget in 2005-6
(news, page 8, 5 February).

Bristol programme manager Tony Benjamin said the DfES had shown a
lack of consideration towards 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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