We have secured the future of our 17 registered Children’s Centres with no job losses, for the next two years.
It follows a great deal of hard negotiations and discussions over the last few months with partners and the centres.
As I constantly remind people, we have lost 58 percent of our funding due to Central Government cuts – a total of £330 million – and that means we have to do things differently.
The talks with partners have intensified over the last week or so, and we now have guarantees of an additional £1.5 million from our partners for the next three years.
When combined with work to drive down accommodation costs and a contribution from our reserves and contingencies, we are now in a position where we are able to sustain the existing network of centres.
But we have to come up with a longer term solution, because the massive financial challenge we face hasn’t gone away.
So, I am setting up a task group which will look at a sustainable model for the future of Children’s Centres, by pooling funding from different parts of the public sector.
I want us to work in partnership with the NHS to develop a network of what I am calling ‘Health and Wellbeing Centres’, which will support children from birth up until 11 years of age.
The task group will include representation from staff and user groups so that we can have a detailed and thorough look at this issue and come up with a solution that works for Liverpool.
We will start this discussion at a Health Summit led by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to be held next month.
In addition, we will continue to demand from this Government and the next a better, fairer funding settlement to protect services, including commitments such as ring-fencing Children’s Centres.
I’m optimistic that a new government after May’s general election with a fresh mandate will see how badly affected Liverpool is by central government cuts.
The bottom line is that I recognise how passionately people feel about the centres, because I am too. My previous working life was spent in children’s social work, so I really do get it.
I will keep you in touch with developments.
Mayor of Liverpool