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Charity fears for family services

Disadvantaged and vulnerable families are at breaking point and services set up to support them are struggling to cope, a charity has warned.

Action for Children said a mix of problems including substance misuse, Government spending cuts and unemployment are leaving thousands who are in urgent need unable to get help.

The charity said it had conducted a year-long investigation "into the social and financial costs" of the coalition's spending decisions.

More than 200 of the charity's frontline staff - who work daily with more than 80,000 of the country's most vulnerable and neglected people - were asked about their experiences.

The survey found 68% of frontline children's services have had cuts to their budgets and over a third (37%) of these services have seen cuts of between 11% and 30% this year alone.

In the last three months, 48% of frontline services have reported a "marked rise" in the number of children, young people and families needing a service but unable to access one.

At least 5,000 vulnerable children, young people and families have been identified as needing the services Action for Children provides but are currently not receiving them.

Lesley Stopforth, Action for Children service manager for the North West, said: "It is becoming harder and harder for us to get help to those children and families who so desperately need it in my area.

"We are doing all we can on a reduced budget, and with fewer staff, but we worry about all those families we know about but can't take on right now. The country is in a difficult financial position but our children shouldn't be the ones paying the price."

Action for Children chief executive Dame Clare Tickell said: "The Government must take this opportunity to take stock and ensure that their stated intentions to protect the lives of the most vulnerable children, and the measures taken subsequently, are enough."


From Belfast Telegraph