Cutting charity cash will have ‘devastating effect’

Banbury Cake: Parents, children and staff at the Donnington Doorstep Family Centre celebrate the news that children's centres in the county are to be saved. Picture: OX64038 Ric Mellis Buy this photo » Parents, children and staff at the Donnington Doorstep Family Centre celebrate the news that children's centres in the county are to be saved. Picture: OX64038 Ric Mellis

CUTS in support for charities, theatres, arts centres and advice services could lead to closures, managers have warned.

As part of the savings outlined by the county council, funding for some organisations will be cut.

Yesterday it was revealed that the council, which this year had a total budget of £586m, would be axing more than £64m over the next four years.

The Rose Hill and Donnington Advice Centre is one of eight advice organisations which will have its county council funding scrapped in 2015.

The £14,000 given to the centre each year by County Hall may not seem that much in the context of a budget of hundreds of millions of pounds, but its removal could have a devastating effect, according to the centre’s manager Carol Roberts.

Ms Roberts said: “That funding is worth one and a half members of staff to us, and we only have four in total including me.

“For health and safety reasons we have to have two people working here at all times, so if you factor in holiday and sickness, we could close.We will have to go out and find other sources of funding. The money we get from the county council is small compared to the £64,000 we get from the city council, but it is important to us.”

As part of the proposals, Berinsfield Information and Volunteer Centre will lose £4,000 annually, Blackbird Leys Neighbourhood Support Scheme will stop getting £15,000 and the Oxford Citizens’ Advice Bureau will have funding of £25,000 withdrawn.

The council will withdraw its annual £50,000 funding for the Oxfordshire Advocacy Development Group, £25,000 from the Oxfordshire Chinese Community and Advice Centre and £117,000 from the Oxfordshire Community Work Agency.

West Oxfordshire Citizens’ Advice Bureau will also lose its £25,000 annual funding.

Meanwhile, news that children’s centres will be protected from closure has been hailed as a victory for a campaign to save the services.

Almost 16,000 people signed a petition organised by the Save Oxfordshire Children’s Centres group, and the county’s MPs all called for centres to be protected.

It was feared that up to 37 of the 44 children’s centres would shut, but county council leader Ian Hudspeth has said he does not envisage any closures.

However, the council will cut £3m from its budget for children’s centres, early intervention hubs and children’s social care through more efficient working.

Mum-of-one Sally Bolton, 36, from East Oxford, takes her three-year-old son to the Donnington Doorstep and Florence Park children’s centres regularly.

She said: “I am delighted and I think it shows the council has listened to the very strong opinions we have expressed through our very campaign.

“A lot of people have shown they really value the services, and I think this decision is a real victory for us because the council clearly was proposing to close the vast majority of the centres in order to make significant cuts.”

Mr Hudspeth said: “The response has been mainly positive so far, and I have had emails from campaigners thanking us for the work we are doing to protect children’s centres and early intervention hubs.

“This is a draft budget, and it will be going to scrutiny committee on December 16. In previous years they have said scrutiny has been a silent body, but it will be interested to see what it is like now it is chaired by opposition councillors.”

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said: “These cuts will hit services which many of the most vulnerable members of our community depend on, whether they are people with learning difficulties, the elderly and frail or people who rely on advice from centres like the CAB or Rose Hill and Donnington Advice Centre. It is good news that there is respite for the children’s centres, although absorbing a £3m cut isn’t going to be easy.”

Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood said: “Like other local authorities and Government departments, the county council has had to make some very tough decisions in this budget and all services need to play their part.

“However, as I have made clear in recent weeks I believe children’s centres are hubs offering a host of essential services and that closing them would have been a false economy. So I am very pleased OCC listened to parents and staff and will keep these centres open.”

Comments (4)

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9:38am Sat 7 Dec 13

valentim99 says...

Well what about some cuts in management wages for start.....
Well what about some cuts in management wages for start..... valentim99

12:40pm Sat 7 Dec 13

Man on the Green says...

Civil servants around Europe have had wage cuts of as much as 15%, and some have suffered been higher cumulative cuts over the past few years, with crisis levies and continuing wage freezes on top of earlier cuts.

But the greatest savings have been made by cutting out underperforming staff and layers of bureaucracy.

On all the evidence, the OCC chief exec is quite simply neither up to the job, nor doing enough to justify even a fraction of the excessive sum she is being paid. The same is true of the head of legal (one only has to look at the succession of files on which he has given councillors clearly incompetent advice, such as over the Cogges Link Road).

Both should be given their marching orders, which would generate immediate savings approaching £0.5million (even allowing for over-generous pension payments - better still would be dismissal on the grounds of their very real incompetence, with loss of pension rights). Either way, that money would go a long way to making up for some of these deeply divisive cuts.
Civil servants around Europe have had wage cuts of as much as 15%, and some have suffered been higher cumulative cuts over the past few years, with crisis levies and continuing wage freezes on top of earlier cuts. But the greatest savings have been made by cutting out underperforming staff and layers of bureaucracy. On all the evidence, the OCC chief exec is quite simply neither up to the job, nor doing enough to justify even a fraction of the excessive sum she is being paid. The same is true of the head of legal (one only has to look at the succession of files on which he has given councillors clearly incompetent advice, such as over the Cogges Link Road). Both should be given their marching orders, which would generate immediate savings approaching £0.5million (even allowing for over-generous pension payments - better still would be dismissal on the grounds of their very real incompetence, with loss of pension rights). Either way, that money would go a long way to making up for some of these deeply divisive cuts. Man on the Green

2:12pm Sat 7 Dec 13

DoctorBob says...

The Tories, butchering public services for idealogical reasons.
The Tories, butchering public services for idealogical reasons. DoctorBob

2:40pm Sat 7 Dec 13

Donnington Doorstep says...

Response from Donnington Dorostep Family Centre:

This week we received great news that the threats to Oxfordshire's Children's Centre funding have been reduced. Doorstep staff are so pleased and relieved to know that we will be able to continue to deliver our many services which are so highly valued by local families. The strength of support for Children's Centres across Oxfordshire was highlighted by the amazing parent run campaign which has had such a huge influence on the decision.

However it is difficult to celebrate when we know that other vital services our families rely on - advice centres, services for children with disabilities, early years education support, adult support services - are at risk. Cuts to these services will have a dramatic impact on vulnerable people in our communities and we need to do all we can to work in partnership to protect them.

Anna Thorne - Manager
Response from Donnington Dorostep Family Centre: This week we received great news that the threats to Oxfordshire's Children's Centre funding have been reduced. Doorstep staff are so pleased and relieved to know that we will be able to continue to deliver our many services which are so highly valued by local families. The strength of support for Children's Centres across Oxfordshire was highlighted by the amazing parent run campaign which has had such a huge influence on the decision. However it is difficult to celebrate when we know that other vital services our families rely on - advice centres, services for children with disabilities, early years education support, adult support services - are at risk. Cuts to these services will have a dramatic impact on vulnerable people in our communities and we need to do all we can to work in partnership to protect them. Anna Thorne - Manager Donnington Doorstep

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