QV has previously reported on the precarious funding situation for the St Andrews branch of Families First which was provided with reduced funding for a six month period by Fife Council in March. The charity has now been given a further six month funding extension from Fife Council to run its befriending service, which helps around 60 children and their families in north east Fife every year.
While Fife Council has now given Families First funding until April 2020, there are still grave concerns that voluntary organisations, especially children’s services, are financial uncertainty or possible closure, because of cuts to local authority budgets and changes to third sector grant funding.
Families First manager Morag Coleman said “I have real concern for the future of children’s services in Fife and nationwide,” said . In partnership with Fife Council I am currently working with them to try and find solutions to this problem at a local level”.
“I would also welcome the prospect of working with others to look at the national crisis facing third sector organisations around funding and long term sustainability. Presently we can no longer make any more cuts without it impacting on service delivery and quality of service.”
The funding extension was given a qualified welcome by MSP Willie Rennie, who said: “I’m glad that Fife Council is extending Families First’s funding until the end of the financial year, but they are by no means out of the woods yet. The resilience of Fife’s children’s services appears to be at an all-time low, but this issue is much bigger than this. These organisations provide vital support”.
“Cuts to local authority budgets are a national problem which are already affecting some of the most vulnerable residents of our communities. The Scottish Government must act now to ensure local authorities can effectively deliver quality services that Fife residents so desperately need.”
The Head of Fife Council’s Education and Children’s Services, Dougie Dunlop, said: “Families First provides valuable services to children and families in our communities. A review is now ongoing looking at funding for voluntary sector groups and we’re working in partnership with Families First and other voluntary sector organisations to help find a sustainable longer term funding arrangement so that they continue to operate and provide services in the future.”
Editors note. It is well established that Third Sector organisations provide good value for money and failing to fund them properly is short sighted. Since the work of charities such as Families First is largely preventative, this merely stores up trouble for the future. Children’s charities are particularly vulnerable because of their lack of political clout.
For further information about Families First, go to: http://www.familiesfirststandrews.org.uk