CTSI Connect Centre, Burgh Mews, Alloa, FK10 1HS T. 01259 213 840 E. firstname.lastname@example.org W. www.ctsi.org.uk
17th January 2019
Dear Councillor Forson,
OPEN LETTER: CUTS THREATEN TO INCREASE CHILD POVERTY AND AFFECT THE MOST VULNERABLE IN CLACKMANNANSHIRE
The Budget Consultation document was published last week proposing severe cuts to services that protect and help mitigate the impacts of poverty of the most vulnerable people in Clackmannanshire, and could lead these services ceasing to operate.
In my role as Chief Officer of Clackmannanshire Third Sector Interface (CTSI) and also as Chair of the Tackling Inequalities Group, I am shocked that these proposals have been put forward by council officers in light of the publication of the Corporate Plan 2018-2022 in December which has ‘Reducing Child Poverty’ and ‘Empowering Families & Communities’ as top priorities. These key services threaten to affect the most vulnerable children, young people, families and those in challenging situations and desperate poverty:
- Up to 4,000 people a year attend Clacks CAB. Over the last year 19,000 issues have been addressed by staff and volunteers and financial gains of up to £2.5million were achieved. There is no replacement service in Clackmannanshire.
- The Food bank @ The Gate who receive a very small amount of funding have provided 75,000 meals over the last year, with 28% of the referrals coming from the council and half from housing, to just under 4,000 people including 1386 children. The soup pot has provided 1,600 meals and 41 starter packs to homeless and desperate people. There is no replacement service.
- Action for Children’s service is working across Clacks to support and sometimes protect very young children in complex, high-risk family settings. It is also a further hit to Tullibody and surrounding areas, which has high deprivation and lost Tullibody Healthy Living last year.
- Barnardo’s are working mainly with young people under 16 years who are at highrisk or affected by substance misuse and is ensuring their safety. There is no replacement service or provider.
The Corporate Plan also outlines that the council will ‘Respect each other and work collectively for the common good’ and ‘Work collaboratively with our partners and communities to deliver our vision and outcomes’ and yet at this late stage, these proposals have been put forward by officers, with no consultation and discussion collectively between the council and the organisations on how shared solutions could be sought, and I endear you to meet as soon as possible to make this happen.
Last year, the council highlighted the huge reduction in the costs of residential care for looked-after children amounting to £1.5million. This was achieved, in part by commissioning high-quality services provided by the third sector including Functional Family Therapy and Who Cares’ services combined with the support close at hand for these children coming back in to the area by among others, Action for Children and Barnardo’s, CAB and The Gate. This successful approach was led by the former Head of Social Work working with third sector leaders, and promoted collective responsibility, which I encourage you to do now.
The cost to the council of removing these services and the appalling impacts of them has not been assessed properly – according to independent research, the cost of one eviction alone to a family who presents as homeless, can be up to £83,000 to a local authority (Crisis/ Scottish Government 2012), without taking into account the misery and long-term damage that can be caused to children and young people. Clacks CAB alone supported 146 people threatened with eviction last year from social housing and the costs to the council of serving the evictions alone, without any further interventions, is estimated at £17,000 each which would have cost the council £2.5million.
Furthermore the Care Inspectorate’s Report of the Clackmannanshire and Stirling Health and Social Care Partnership published in November 2018 highlighted that “There is a disproportionate number of people in poverty across the partnership in comparison to the Scotland average. There is no evidence that there is a clear strategy to address the balance of inequalities across the two authorities.” This cannot be ignored.
Working together, with continued funding of these third sector organisations protected fully, we can ensure families stay together, reduce care costs, increase their incomes and improve their financial situation, avoiding unnecessary crisis costs to the local authority. I implore you to meet at your earliest convenience and discuss potential solutions. Yours sincerely
Anthea Coulter Chief Officer & Business Manager