A BID for “crucial” extra cash to support Rotherham victims through the country’s biggest CSE trials has been rejected by the Home Office.
Rotherham Borough Council asked for £6 million over four years to help survivors involved in the Operation Stovewood investigation.
The council, alongside South Yorkshire Police, the National Crime Agency and health partners, had been in discussions with the Government for two years.
But the Home Office has denied any further funding on top of a £2 million payment already agreed by the Department for Education to help children affected by the trials.
Now council leader Cllr Chris Read is seeking an urgent meeting with ministers. He said: “We know from their experience, and from experience elsewhere in the country, that the support given to victims and survivors around the criminal process is absolutely critical to their wellbeing, and to securing convictions.
“It isn’t an optional extra, it’s absolutely essential. Now at the start of the biggest ever criminal investigation into child sexual exploitation in Britain, with 21 men already facing charges and likely many, many more to come, for the Government not to make special funding available without delay would be shameful.”
Operation Stovewood has investigated child sexual exploitation crimes committed in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, the period covered by the Jay report.
The Department for Education committed extra funding to fund social care for children and the additional money was requested to fund more independent sexual violence advocates, social workers, health workers and voluntary sector support staff.
Cllr Read said: “Three years ago, Rotherham was given public assurances by the then Prime Minister and then home secretary, who is now the Prime Minister, that the all necessary resources would be made available to secure justice.
“But now that the cameras have gone home, the Government has been dawdling."
Home Office permanent secretary Philip Rutnam said: “The Department for Education recognises that there is an exceptional need to support children in need of support or at risk of abuse and will provide additional funding to the local authority to support children’s social care.
“It is the clear view of Home Office ministers that there are appropriate existing funding mechanisms available to respond to the other elements of the bid.
“As such no additional funding can be made available through an alternative bidding process.”
The Home Office suggested using the Police Special Grant but Cllr Read said this did not take into account the high demand in South Yorkshire owing to other challenges faced by the force.
We want to continue holding local authorities to account, attending court and council meetings, as well as providing breaking news, competitions and offers – but it costs money. Online advertising does not cover costs, therefore we feel the need to ask for your help in ensuring we can provide the best possible coverage, online and in our printed products.
For as little as £1, you can support the Rotherham Advertiser – and it only takes a minute.
Click here to support local news.