A rather one-sided debate saw Crawley borough councillors agree to ask their county colleagues to continue funding a project for vulnerable families.
Think Family is part of the county’s Integrated Prevention and Earliest Help service (IPEH), which has seen its budget cut by £4.9m.
It works to support vulnerable families – offering help and advice on a variety of issues such as mental health, disability and relationships – to stop family breakdowns and to prevent children from being taken into care.
The consequences of the budget cuts on the families in need was described as ‘deeply concerning’ at a meeting of the full council on Wednesday night.
Members were told that, by next year, Think Family will have helped more than 5,000 families in Crawley.
A Notice of Motion was submitted to the meeting, with leader Peter Lamb saying it was unacceptable to see ‘more preventative measures being dragged out of the system’.
Suggesting that the cuts would lead to more children being taken into care, he added: “We cannot afford for that to happen to local families.
“We must do all we can to deliver this service, which has been delivered by Crawley Borough Council in the past – and I hope will be delivered jointly in the future.”
Geraint Thomas added: “This sort of problem is very much intertwined with the problem of poverty and particularly the poverty that affects young families and children.”
And Chris Cheshire added that properly funding Think Family would save ‘a huge amount of misery for the future’.
While none of the Conservative group disagreed with the motion – and most of them voted in favour – there was no contribution to the debate from any of the councillors on the blue side of the chamber.
After the meeting, some of them pointed out that the issue was a county matter, saying it should not have been raised at borough level.
This issue is likely to be raised again at a West Sussex County Council meeting, in Chichester, tomorrow (Friday April 5).