Fury over scrapping of funding to support child sex abuse survivors

Fury over scrapping of funding to support child sex abuse survivors

By Michael Upton | 24/11/2021

Fury over scrapping of funding to support child sex abuse survivors

 

MINISTERS were asked to think again after scrapping funding which supports CSE survivors.

MPs and councillors representing both Labour and the Conservatives appealed to the Government to extend the £500,000 annual grant which helps Rotherham Council meet the children’s social work costs linked to police investigations into child grooming and abuse.

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion condemned the move as “outrageous” and RMBC’s Tory group leader Emily Barley said she was “very disappointed”.

The annual cost to the council to support Operation Stovewood, the National Crime Agency’s investigation into CSE in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, has been estimated at £6.9 million per year.

But children and families under-secretary Will Quince has written to Ms Champion confirming a £2 million grant over four years will not be extended and the government will instead focus on “helping RMBC live within their revenue funding settlement”.

Stovewood is expected to continue for another five to seven years and currently has 225 officers working on cases with at least 1,038 identified victims and 284 designated suspects.

Ms Champion said: “The Government’s decision to in effect cut the funding it provides to survivors of child abuse in Rotherham is outrageous.

“With a significant number of trials linked to Operation Stovewood expected in the coming year, this funding is needed now more than ever.

“Instead, the Government has pulled the rug from under their feet.”

Ms Champion said the government had repeatedly offered “warm words but little more” when it came to supporting survivors.

RMBC leader Cllr Chris Read said the decision was “the last thing anyone needs right now”, noting securing justice for survivors was a “real term effort” by several agencies.

Cllr Read said prosecutions could only proceed “when all the appropriate measures are in place, and that is directly affected by the resources that are available”.

Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford said: “I have consistently backed calls for funding to be available and have requested a meeting with the Government to discuss this situation.

“I will leave no stone unturned in the fight against CSE.”

Cllr Barley said: “I am very disappointed by the removal of this additional grant funding.

“Victims and survivors of these historic crimes must always be prioritised both locally and nationally, and I will be taking up this issue with the Minister responsible.”

Cllr Barley said the council’s children’s service department had “a number of serious problems, including around financial management”, but that scrapping the grant “is doing things the wrong way around – it would be better to make the necessary changes to improve services and get them on a more sustainable footing before removing funding to support survivors”.

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