We are disappointed, but not surprised at the outcome of the judicial review into the closing of the children’s centres in Buckinghamshire.
The scope of the judicial review was to look at the decision making process with the most recent consultation investigated. The funding cuts though were considered to be a political decision, so the court did not discuss them or let it influence their decision. It only considered whether the services provided were sufficient within the budget allowed by the council.
The council had decided to cut £3.1 million pounds from the budget for children’s services. This decision was made as they are struggling to pay for services since the coalition government made austerity cuts that have never been reversed. They then launched the consultation to get the public to say where the cuts should be made. As we heard in the judicial review, there was no way to opt for keeping services the same in the consultation.
There are two services needed to ensure the proper care of our children. There are universal services that should be accessible to all and there are the acute services that are needed when there is a problem. While we welcome the potential for improvement in acute services, this does not assist parents who need day to day access to services.
We need good, universal services in Buckinghamshire that everyone can access in a way that is suitable for them. This will only happen when funding is restored to local councils. Austerity is not over and only a Labour government will ensure that we fund social care properly.