Homestart home visits funding axed by Conservative-run Herts County Council

This morning at County Hall there was a heated debate as local staff and volunteers watched to see the fate of the nine Homestart Schemes across the County.

After a petition signed by 2800 Hertfordshire residents was presented by Homestart three motions were presented; one from the Conservative group in favour of slashing funding to the service, and two from the Labour and Liberal Democrat benches seeking to save the Service.

The Conservative administration refused to listen to political arguments or the pleas of the Homestart staff and volunteers and voted three times to axe funding to this lifeline for vulnerable families.  

Speaking with passion, and with with experience as a Home Start family support visitor, County councillor Sara Bedford (Abbots Langley) said, "I found a report moved by a certain young Cllr Gordon, when he was the Executive member for Children Schools and Families. 

"I quote - 'The schemes in Hertfordshire are well managed, deliver good outcomes and save money well in excess of funding for the schemes.', I quote - 'Providing more support at lower levels for children and families provide better outcomes because such children and families tend not to need higher level services'

"And updating the figures I also quote 'If HS prevents just nine children being taken into care each year, this alone would save more than the total grant.'

"Conservative councillors continue to claim that the cuts proposals are not driven by the desire for savings. I'm not sure what is driving them then? Ideology? Not providing services to poor families with more than two children?

"I'll continue to oppose these ridiculous and pointless cuts and hope that the Lib Dem budget next year will succeed in putting this funding back."

County councillor Mark Watkin (Nascot Park), Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Childrens' Services said after the meeting; "Today's decision by conservative-run HCC to cut £390,000 annual grant to the nine Homestart branches in Hertfordshire will be devastating.  

"700 supported families face a frightening future and could drop into the higher needs groups as a result of this.  I am appalled at the complete lack of planning or consultation with HomeStart, Childrens Centres and Health Visitors. The results will be disastrous.

"I will continue to hold the administration to account for every family so abandoned."

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