Fife Council, which is facing a £11M black hole in its 2021-22 budget, is planning to take £410,000 of its funding of 19 charities and voluntary organisations after a six-month transition period.
These include charities which support struggling families such as Home Start, with several branches across Fife, and the stand-alone Cottage Family Centre in Kirkcaldy whose mission is “to influence and advocate for our children and families to ensure that in the future no child goes without, at the very least, their basic needs.”
As well as Home Start and The Cottage Family Centre, groups set to lose funding include the looked after children service Who Cares? Scotland, the Drug and Alcohol Project Leven and the couples counselling service Relationship Scotland.
The council has undertaken a “recommissioning programme” for children’s services to save money and council chiefs say some of the services they were funding were not focused narrowly enough on what the authority is hoping to achieve and offer more “universal” services such as counselling schemes targeted at parents.
Lynn Gillies, children and families service manager, sought to reassure councillors of the Education and Children’s Services Committee that these charities would be given to find alternative sources of funding and would not, as opposition leader Cllr Dave Dempsey feared, be “falling off the edge” after the six months were up.
Mr Dempsey said he had been contacted by some organisations affected, adding: “If these organisations are providing a service that is value for money that’s something we shouldn’t get rid of just because it doesn’t meet a particular brief.”
Ms Gillies responded: “What we do recognise in this process and have done for some time is we will have some specialist organisations who may because of what they offer may not naturally fit with some of the new prioritisation of services that we require to meet the objectives of the children and family strategy.
“We will work with organisations to look at the scope of what they offer, the wider funding opportunities where there might be a more natural fit for these organisations to enable them to continue to have a footprint in Fife.”
Kathy Henwood, Head of Children and Families and Criminal Justice Services, said organisations would be given help to find new funding in what she branded “a two-pronged attack”. She added: “We need to wrap around support in a different way – that does mean our investment have to be supporting young people, children and families in that targeted space.
“We’re going to be working really intensively with those providers to get their issues resolved at the earliest.”
Committee convener Cllr Craig Walker – said the council administration was not seeking to take an adversarial approach. He said: “This isn’t a process where it’s six months and then a cliff edge. It’s about working with the third sector – a partnership between what the council requires and what the third sector is providing.”