Funding cut to family support charity Home-Start

Home-Start protest outside County Hall two weeks ago failed to stop funding cut

Home-Start protest outside County Hall two weeks ago failed to stop funding cut - Credit: Archant

Herts County Council has pulled the plug on funding a vital service for vulnerable families.

Today, the council’s Cabinet decided to stop funding family support charity Home-Start for its home visiting service from September, saving £390,000 a year.

Home-Start currently provides support to 395 struggling families with young children in Hertfordshire, and the cut casts doubt on the future of the charity’s nine centres in the county.

County councillor Mark Watkin, who opposed the plans, said: “It’s a massive disappointment. When you talk to the families you realise the people the county council says can support them going forward are the very people who have been referring these families to Home-Start because they know they haven’t got the skills and resources to support them.

“I’m really sad for these families. If they don’t get the help they need they will deteriorate and they will be a much bigger burden on society.”

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The local authority said an increase in services provided by children’s centres, the expansion of free nursery education and an enhanced health visiting service mean it is no longer appropriate to continue funding the provision.

Richard Roberts, Cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We will continue to work with our partners in health, community groups and the voluntary sector to help parents give their children the best possible start in life.

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“With more than 90 per cent of families in Hertfordshire registered with their local children’s centre, they are perfectly placed to help families who need support the most. And for those who do not feel able to attend a children’s centre, there are outreach services which include visits at home.”

He added: “This decision is in no way a reflection on Home-Start and its volunteers. I fully appreciate their hard work to support vulnerable families and sincerely hope that together we can find a way to ensure this much valued charity has a sustainable future.”

The council has set aside £200,000 to help Home-Start adjust to the new arrangements.

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