Lifeline for Fife charities which faced closure after funding cuts

Local charities at risk of closure after losing Fife Council funding have been saved after the authority agreed to continue financial support.
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As first revealed by the Local Democracy Reporting Service in January, organisations such as Couples Counselling Fife Home-Start, Fife Gingerbread and The Cottage Family Centre were set to lose hundreds of thousands of pounds of funding after the council changed its policy on funding external organisations.

The "recommissioning" process saw the council opt to support only organisations that directly support children, locking out those that help families as a whole, in order to save £410,000 a year.

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However, after consulting with the affected non-profits and U-turning on cutting the money in 21/22, service manager Lynn Gillies says some of the at-risk organisations will be funded permanently following "intensive" discussions.

Mieke van der Zijpp, manager of Couples Counselling FifeMieke van der Zijpp, manager of Couples Counselling Fife
Mieke van der Zijpp, manager of Couples Counselling Fife

Others have been granted a further reprieve until at least April next year.

The organisations which will now receive full-time funding as before are Crossroad Fife, Relationships Scotland's Couples Counselling Fife and Family Mediation Fife services and the Scottish Child-Minding Association. They are back on the council's books after agreeing to either ringfence the council cash for specific purposes, or by changing the type of service they offer.

Mieke van der Zijpp, manager of Couples Counselling Fife, said she was "flabbergasted" by the reversal, which will see her service continue to receive an annual grant of £23,000 after agreeing to ringfence it to pay for sessions with parents of children aged 0-8 only.

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"It isn't covering our core costs anymore so we're still have to find other sources of funding to get our finances in order - but I'm happy with this, as it's much better than not getting any money at all," van der Zijpp said.

"It's definitely a positive and I feel much better about our future."

Fife Council was heavily criticised for its plan to cut loose 19 charities that support families on low incomes around the Kingdom.

Third-sector bosses described how they were made to justify their funding against opaque guidelines drawn up by education bosses. Those who failed to meet the criteria were set to be cut loose completely in October - but an outcry, led publicly by van der Zijpp, backed the council into a rethink.

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Beyond the four organisations that have secured long-term funding, 10 others are continuing to hold discussions with Fife Council as they work to meet the new guidelines.

However, five charities will still be let go after council bosses concluded they were unable to meet the new guidelines. However, they have been granted a further six-month reprieve on the plan to cut them loose this October and will be funded until April 2022.

The affected organisations are Families First, SEAL, prison support group Families Outside, looked-after children charity Who Cares? Scotland and the Royal National Institute for the Blind, which runs a support centre in Kirkcaldy.

Cllr Dave Dempsey (Con, Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay), who has called for charities to be better supported during the recommissioning process, has applauded the council's rethink.

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"I'm pleased to see these organisations are on a route that will take them to a good outcome - I'm happy with that," he said.

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