Delay In Funding Announcements Could Hit Children’s Services Plans

Delays in announcing Comprehensive Spending Review funding could see councils struggling to plan their children’s services. Local authorities had been expecting to find out funding levels for 2008-11 in October, but leaked documents show key areas of Government funding will not be announced until December.

Major programmes affected include: Positive Activities for Young People, Teenage Pregnancy Local Implementation and the Youth Opportunity Fund. Other December announcements will include funding linked to the Care Matters white paper, eCAF and more details on the review Aiming High for Disabled Children.

David Hawker, outgoing director of children’s services at Brighton & Hove City Council, said this means there will have to be some “educated guesses” on how much money councils have. “December is a bit late for planning, some local authorities have gone a long way along the road for setting budgets for the next year,” he said.

Hawker said there could also be implications for staff posts, such as hiring staff or making them redundant as they would need three months’ notice. But he is pleased that local authorities have been told when the funding announcements are to be made: “I would rather have them late than not at all. Providing that it is December and doesn’t drift into January we should be okay.”

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said it had been waiting for the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review for some time and it would be disappointing if announcements were delayed. He said: “If services are poorly funded then authorities have to make difficult decisions on cutting services or increasing council tax.”