NEWSFLASH: Plans announced to close family support services at Melton’s children’s centres

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Family support services at Melton’s three children’s centres could close and be replaced by a single ‘hub’ venue to help vulnerable families if new cost-cutting proposals are approved.

Leicestershire County Council wants to reorganise family support services, which provide early help and prevention to tackle problems before they get serious.

A plan has been drawn up to create five ‘hubs’ across the county – one of them at Venture House in Melton – and 10 outreach centres.

This would mean the end of family services being provided at children’s centres at The Cove, in Sysonby Street, The Edge, on Dalby Road, and Fairmead, on Drummond Walk.

If councillors back the changes at a meeting on January 9, there will be a 12-week public consultation giving families and residents a chance to give their opinions.

Cllr Ivan Ould, cabinet lead member for children and family services at County Hall, said: “We’ve spent a long time analysing services and reviewing options.

“More work is required to develop a new approach, but joining up our prevention work in this way would enable us to provide a range of specialist, tailored support to the most vulnerable families across Leicestershire. 

“Clearly, the proposed new service would target support at those who most need it, so we’re committed to understanding fully the impact before any changes are made.”

The council currently provides four different areas of support - children’s centres, Supporting Leicestershire Families (SLF), the Youth Offending Service (YOS) and information, support and assessment teams.

These would be consolidated into a new ‘one-stop- shop’ arrangement to be called a Family Wellbeing Service.

There are 40 buildings being used across Leicestershire but this would reduce to just 15 with the new proposals.

The 25 buildings no longer required, including the three in Melton, would be considered for alternative uses, such as children’s nurseries.

If adopted, the new set-up would start from the spring of 2019 and the £1.5m saving would see the loss of eight full time jobs across Leicestershire.

Councillor Ould added: “Children’s services across the country are under huge strain, with the Local Government Association estimating a £2bn national funding gap by 2020.

“The growing pressure on our budget means we need to reduce early help costs and deliver services differently.

“We are also aware that the government have yet to make a commitment to continuing their financial support to our Supporting Leicestershire Families programme after 2018/19. That support is over £2m this year.”

As well as Melton, the other ‘hubs’ for the new Family Wellbeing Service would be at Loughborough, Hinckley, Wigston and Coalville.

Outreach centres would be at Earl Shilton, Shepshed, Thurmaston, Lutterworth, Market Harborough, Huncote, Castle Donington, Measham, Loughborough, Coalville.