Fears for future of children’s services in Fife

Morag Coleman warned that no more cuts can be made to the service.
Morag Coleman warned that no more cuts can be made to the service.

The manager of a St Andrews charity has raised concerns about the future of children’s services in Fife.

Families First has been given a six month funding extension from Fife Council to run its befriending service, which helps around 60 children in north east Fife every year.

The organisation was given funding for just six months back in March, rather than the usual year, making it difficult for bosses to plan for the future and secure match funding.

While Fife Council has now given Families First funding until April 2020, there are still grave concerns that voluntary organisations, especially children’s services, could face financial uncertainty or possible closure, because of cuts to local authority budgets and changes to third sector grant funding.

“I have real concern for the future of children’s services in Fife and nationwide,” said Families First manager Morag Coleman.

“In partnership with Fife Council I am currently working with them to try and find solutions to this problem at a local level.

“I would also welcome the prospect of working with others to look at the national crisis facing third sector organisations around funding and long term sustainability. Presently we can no longer make any more cuts without it impacting on service delivery and quality of service.”

The funding extension was welcomed by MSP Willie Rennie, who said: “I’m glad that Fife Council is extending Families First’s funding until the end of the financial year, but they are by no means out of the woods yet. The resilience of Fife’s children’s services appears to be at an all-time low, but this issue is much bigger than this. These organisations provide vital support.

“Cuts to local authority budgets are a national problem which are already affecting some of the most vulnerable residents of our communities. The Scottish Government must act now to ensure local authorities can effectively deliver quality services that Fife residents so desperately need.”

Head of Fife Council’s Education and Children’s Services, Dougie Dunlop, said: “Families First provides valuable services to children and families in our communities. A review is now ongoing looking at funding for voluntary sector groups and we’re working in partnership with Families First and other voluntary sector organisations to help find a sustainable longer term funding arrangement so that they continue to operate and provide services in the future.”