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Cabinet agrees not to create three Family Wellbeing Centres following community feedback

Sefton Council’s Cabinet has agreed not to create three Family Wellbeing Centres after listening to community feedback from a recent consultation exercise.

They have agreed to a more joined up approach for the whole family covering ages from pre-birth to 19 year olds, which will complement the work Sefton Council is doing to transform the way it provides early intervention and prevention services.

The recommendations, which were agreed at Cabinet on December 7, are subject to a five-day call in period.

Cllr Ian Maher, Labour Leader of Sefton Council, said:

“Due to significant reductions in Government funding over the last few years, the Council has had to make some really tough decisions, but we always try to make these with our communities at the heart.

“This consultation has been a very difficult, emotive piece of work and we have spent a lot of time listening to our communities. As a result we have changed our proposals because of their feedback and all existing Children’s Centres are to remain open. This decision clearly shows that what our communities say do matter to us.”

More than 1,600 people gave their views during the consultation and the Council held 15 public engagement events. While the majority were in favour of a more joined up approach for 0 to19 year olds, they were not in favour of having three main centres.

Cllr John Joseph Kelly, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Safeguarding, added:

“Sefton has an excellent track record for consulting with our communities and this is a great example of this work.

“All along we have been clear that we would listen to people’s views and we have truly listened. As a result of this valuable feedback, we are changing our plans, which will allow us to be more joined up and make the most of the money that we have available to ensure support for those most in need. It will complement the work we’re doing to transform the way we provide early intervention and prevention services.”

In order to retain the centres within their current bases and to keep within the available budget, the Council acknowledges it will not be possible to provide the same level of activity within the centres. As a result, funding to the children’s and family centres going forward will change. It means that the allocated monies will be prioritised on providing services that support parents, carers and all children regardless of age. Report details are on the Sefton Council website.

The Council will work closely with schools on the impact of the funding changes, as there would also be likely implications for employees of both the Council and those employed by schools.

The next step of this process is to begin to engage with service users, staff and partners on what a new 0-19 offer will look like.