Signed up but still nervous

The Howgill Family Centre, which was founded by a group of
parents in 1977, has 50 permanent staff and runs services,
including health and education services, for children in West
Cumbria – an area with high levels of unemployment and

It was the leading accountable body for one of the Sure Start
trailblazers and has signed a contract with Cumbria Council to be
the leading body for the children’s centre.

Chief executive Russell Norman believes this development is a
natural extension of what it has already been doing. He says the
organisation’s longevity and the relationship that it has built up
with the council over years means there is a willingness to let it

But despite the favourable position the organisation finds itself
in compared with many others in the voluntary sector, Norman admits
to nervousness over the move of Sure Start funding from central to
local government control next year. This is unsurprising given that
Sure Start money makes up half of its income.

“We are still unsure of how the funding mechanisms will work come
April 2006, which makes us a little nervous,” Norman admits.

He says a letter from the Department for Education and Skills in
February saying the money would be ringfenced when it transfers is
reassuring, but adds: “We have no warranty that that will be the
case after 2006/2007.”

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