Thursday, 25 April 2013

Medway Council cuts negatively impact children and families

Ollie & Sophie
I've been becoming more and more disillusioned with the cuts and removal of services over recent years.

What started as efficiency savings and the trimming of dead and dying wood was necessary. However as time has gone by the cuts have gone to deep and with misdirection of the banner of attacking the "benefit scroungers" they are starting to attack those who genuinely need it.

Local Labour leader Vince Maple talked about governing bodies having different priorities in his recent article for the Medway Messenger and how they choose to act. He especially criticised the ruling Conservatives locally and nationally for their choices of where the axe should fall.

For example, and this is a personal example, Medway's conservatives have changed the way money goes into Sure Start centres which equates to a severe cut to their budgets.

Many of my regular readers will know that I have two children; Sophie (2 and 11 months) and Oliver (9 months) and my wife was getting ready to go back to work around the end of July. We'd put Ollie's name down and were waiting for the green light.

Last Saturday we received a letter saying that the centre would no longer be accepting children under two years old!

There has been talk of staff numbers being cut and the current staff, all of whom are excellent, having to reapply for their posts. A meeting has been called to discuss the changes and how it will effect services.

However, the big problem is, IF we can't get Ollie into a nursery then Sam cannot go back to work and our household income is cut by a third. It would be an impossibility for the four of us to exist on my wages alone what with utilities, council tax, rail fare and even food prices all rising.

Serious choices would need to be made and we might have to pull Sophie out of nursery all together, which could be bad for her development. Further to that choices will need to be made regarding power, water even food and heating in the winter. Our already cold house may have to become devoid of all heat in the winter save for low heat on the bedroom heaters which will impact all of our health, just so that we can get by.

In this times it would be reasonable to turn to the state for help but with the new welfare reforms can we expect much assistance?

What I am struggling to understand is that the Coalition are trying to get people back into work and supporting those who aspire and work hard. However thanks to, frankly, fiscal mismanagement, the local Conservative council have put a few people out of work and effectively blocking others from returning to their jobs and possibly forcing people to look at benefits?

It is nonsensical.

My family have always worked, we've never taken anything we haven't been entitled to and we live with in our means. The very epitome of what this Government is trying to encourage and yet we're being kicked in the nuts - and not just us but also the other families who have applied and the staff at the centre which will have a knock on effect on the development of the other children.

Thanks a bunch.

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