Thursday, 22 July 2010

A Curate's Egg

Like the proverbial egg this week has been good and bad in parts. On Tuesday I had to inform 10 staff that they are at risk of redundancy because the contract we have with a local authority which pays for their service will be terminated from 30th September 2010 instead of running until 31st March 2011 as planned. The local authority has said this is no reflection on the quality or need for the service which provides very intensive therapeutic work for families where the parents have issues of substance misuse and the children are at immiment threat of removal into care, it is simply a matter of finance and having to make 'in year cuts'.

The service itself started only 8 months ago and in that time has documented evidence that as a direct result of what it does 20 children have remained safely at home rather than being taken into care. Had those 20 gone into care, using the Local Authority's own figures would have cost exactly double the cost of our service. So in effect we have saved the Local Authority money. I am hoping that Councillors will see that cutting our service makes no financial sense let alone the impact on children's lives. I am hopeful they will agree to a meeting where we can make that case.

Our Trustees met yesterday evening for their quarterly Board meeting and considered my report about the likely impact of cuts in public sector spending on Children North East in 2011-2012. I am very heartened that despite the grim forecast they specifically do not want to follow the public sector line and downsize the organisation. Instead they agreed to back my plan to retain capacity, market our services so that they can be spot purchased and develop new services and sources of income. They recognise next year will be very hard but are hopeful there will be new opportunities from 2012 when GP commissioned services will begin to happen; the initial impact of cuts in public spending will be over; and the Coalition government has had time to set it's priorities for children's services.

Finally before their meeting the Trustees visited the new WEYES building and were bowled over by how good it is. Quote: 'Wow! what a transformation!'

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