Buckinghamshire County Council is slashing funding for domestic violence programmes and children in care in one of the most blatant examples yet of a local authority targeting the most vulnerable.
A meeting of the full council this week agreed to the cuts, with Conservative members voting the cuts through in the face of concern from Lib Dem councillors who wanted more time to allow consultation.
Funding for domestic violence programmes is being cut by £200k – 25 percent – as the Tory-run council looks to save £9.2m as a result of in-year government budget cuts and rising cost pressures.
The council admits the domestic violence budget cut will ‘reduce our preventative work with women and children at risk of Domestic Abuse’.
Among the eye-watering list of cuts to ‘looked after children’ and social work budgets are:
- £100k from children’s centres reducing preventative work
- £85k cut to Care Matters programme to support looked after children with their education
- £50k reduction in the level of support to young people leaving care including losing one post and reducing birthday and Christmas allowances and stopping funding driving lessons and university fees
- £226k reduction in Prevention, Assessment & Protection Staffing budgets in frontline services ‘reducing our capacity to manage the assessment process of children in need’
- £317k cut to Safeguarding Management Staffing budgets from frontline services ‘reducing our capacity to manage high level preventative work’
- £106k cut to programmes of Third Tier Family Support which focus on families causing significant concerns ‘therefore reducing our preventative work’
- £145k cut to staffing budgets for Children with disability, Residential care (with a commensurate reduction in bedspaces), Family group Conferences and family Centres reducing the capacity for provision to vulnerable children and their families and to undertake some court directed work
And on top of that, funding for the Connexions youth careers and advice service is also being cut by 350k – 19 percent of its total budget.
And that’s not even the whole list.
Overall the council is cutting £5.4m from the Children & Young People budget. More cuts are inevitable, as the council is committed to saving £52m over the next four years “through efficiencies”.
The council’s domestic violence budget funds a number of charities to work with victims, including Aylesbury Women’s Aid, which runs a refuge and operates an outreach service to help women and children who have suffered from domestic violence, Wycombe Women’s Aid, and the Asian Women Helpline.
This afternoon the Aylesbury and Wycombe Women’s Aid centres declined to comment on the domestic violence funding cut as they do not yet know what the impact will be or where the cuts will be focused.