19 charities and voluntary groups hit as Fife Council slashes £400,000 from budget

Third sector organisations benefitting from Fife Council cash are set to lose out after councillors agreed to reform how the local authority supports the third sector.

Wednesday, 27th January 2021, 8:26 am

And the list includes Kirkcaldy’s highly-regarded Cottage Centre which runs the town’s massive Christmas appeal to help families in need.

Around £410,000 of funding has been slashed from the 2021/22 budget, affecting 19 charities and voluntary organisations that could see funding discontinued following a six-month transition period.

As well as the Cottage, groups facing a hit include Drug and Alcohol Project Leven, several Fife branches of family support charity Home-Start, couples conselling service Relationship Scotland and looked after children service Who Cares? Scotland.

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Councillor Craig Walker

The council has undertaken what it calls a "recommissioning programme" for children's services to save money. Each year, it funds social enterprises and voluntary groups that provide services complimenting council efforts in education and social work.

However, council chiefs say some of the services they were funding were not focused narrowly enough on what the authority is hoping to achieve.

Organisations facing the chop offer more "universal" services such as counselling schemes targeted at parents.

Those continuing to receive funding on an annual basis are explicitly targeted at helping children, such as the Aberlour Childcare Trust, Barnardo's, Fife Women's Aid's children's services and Childline.

Any organisation that cannot justify receiving funding under the council's new guidelines will have to seek alternate sources of cash.

Lynn Gillies, children and families service manager, sought to reassure councillors over the support these charities would be given to find alternative sources of funding and would not, as opposition leader Cllr Dave Dempsey feared, be "falling off the edge" after the six months were up.

Mr Dempsey said he had been contacted by some organisations affected, adding: "If these organisations are providing a service that is value for money that's something we shouldn't get rid of just because it doesn't meet a particular brief."

Ms Gillies responded: "What we do recognise in this process and have done for some time is we will have some specialist organisations who may because of what they offer may not naturally fit with some of the new prioritisation of services that we require to meet the objectives of the children and family strategy.

"We will work with organisations to look at the scope of what they offer, the wider funding opportunities where there might be a more natural fit for these organisations to enable them to continue to have a footprint in Fife."

Kathy Henwood, head of children and families and criminal justice services, said organisations would be given help to find new funding in what she branded "a two-pronged attack".

She added: "We need to wrap around support in a different way - that does mean our investment have to be supporting young people, children and families in that targeted space.

"We're going to be working really intensively with those providers to get their issues resolved at the earliest.”

Committee convener Cllr Craig Walker - chairing his first meeting - said the council administration was not seeking to take an adversarial approach.

He said: "This isn't a process where it's six months and then a cliff edge. It's about working with the third sector - a partnership between what the council requires and what the third sector is providing."

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