There was strong and vocal opposition to these cuts through the Budget consultation, which is confirmed by the Council’s write up of the feedback, ‘the cuts here received the largest negative balance of all proposals and they were strongly opposed at all the public meetings.’(PDF p3) And 59% of people responding online disagreed with these particular cuts.
The Council were also warned that the severity of these cuts would threaten the capacity and viability of some Voluntary sector organisations at a time of growing need.
The Council’s response to the consultation has been to re-designate the heading of the cut and carry on regardless.
The Draft budget proposal states that
The nature of the proposal has been clarified. It does not just apply to the voluntary sector but to a broader range of externally provided services.
There will be a structured review of all providers and an assessment in relation to the delivery of priorities, value for money and added value.
VCS organisations were notified that they might be decommissioned before Christmas, and although there is the possibility of some limited new funding through the reallocation of some Public Health monies many projects remain under threat. These include the Barnardos’ Amazon and Arch Projects and the Stepping Stones Arch Project.
The Barnardo’s Amazon project provides counselling and support services to young people who have been sexually abused. The Arch projects provide important preventative and early intervention services to young people who may be vulnerable to or starting to experience some mental health difficulties, what is known as Tiers 2 and 3 interventions.
The cuts to these services which promote the mental health of young people need to be seen alongside the cuts of £1.43m to the CAMHs service which works with young people with acute mental health problems. The consultation response from Birmingham Children’s Hospital, which is commissioned to provide CAMHs, sets this out with crystal clarity:
The proposed cut for 2013/14 alongside the dramatic cut to Voluntary sector funding (£4.3m) across the City will have a massive and hugely detrimental effect on the welfare and mental health of children, young people and families in Birmingham.
This cannot be under estimated and all the good work, early intervention and treatment developed over the last 10 years for the well-being of Birmingham’s children will be lost and the City will revert back to what minimal service provision existed many years ago.