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06.11.18

Cornwall Council at ‘crossroads’ over plans for means-tested children’s services

Plans to integrate children’s services at Cornwall Council are to be discussed by the cabinet despite protests that parents could end up being charged to use the services.

Cornwall Council will meet tomorrow to discuss the ‘One Vision’ Partnership Plan, which will decide who will run the services when around 235 health visitors and school nurses are transferred into the council’s integrated children’s services.

The local authority says the decision will set the foundation “which will shape the future integration of education, health and social care services for children, young people and their families in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.”

But the Unite union has said the meeting will leave parents “paying for health visitors to carry out vital health checks on their babies and children,” and has urged councillors to keep the children’s services in-house.

It said that children’s services in the region were “at a crossroads” and that the council faces a choice between keeping the services in-house or using an ‘alternative delivery model’ through a company separate from the council which has the “potential to make profits from hard-pressed parents.”

The cabinet report published ahead of the meeting said the proposals being discussed would “provide preventative and universal services to all children and young people,” and were “with in line with what children, young people and their families have said they want.”

Unite’s regional officer Deborah Hopkins said: “Cornwall, so reliant on the seasonal tourist trade, is reportedly the second poorest region in northern Europe, so I am not sure where councillors would expect hard-pressed parents to find the cash to pay for a visit from a health visitor.

“Increasingly, Cornwall council is relying on private companies to provide services. We believe that the council should jettison these flawed and misguided proposals – our children deserve so much better.”

In a meeting last month, Cllr Pat Pogerson, the children and families overview and scrutiny committee chairman, said that the council had to consider means-testing services but said it would not apply to the council’s statutory services which support children and families.

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