Funding cut for survivors of child sexual exploitation will be a “challenge” for Rotherham Council
The leader of Rotherham council says the government’s decision to withdraw funding to help victims of child sexual exploitation in the borough will prove a “further challenge” for the authority.
Operation Stovewood, the National Crime Agency’s investigation into non-recent CSE in Rotherham is expected to continue for another five to seven years, and has identified 1,038 identified victims so far.
The council will now have to meet the estimated £6m per year cost from its own budget.
The news comes two weeks after the Rotherham Conservative Group unveiled a bombshell report, alleging that “CSE may be occurring on the same scale as in the past”.
Councillor Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council said: “Securing justice for survivors of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham through Operation Stovewood is a real team effort, with agencies working together to ensure the right support and safeguards are in place to bring child abusers to justice.
“The cost to the council of its share of that work is in the region of £6 million per year, and throughout the last few years we have been in discussion with government about national support towards those costs.
“Each year until now they have made a contribution recognising the exceptional nature of this vital work. When Stovewood may yet continue for a further seven years, the last thing anyone needs right now is for the government to reduce its commitment.
“All the local agencies are absolutely determined to see this through so justice can be done but prosecutions can only proceed at pace when all the appropriate measures are in place, and that is directly affected by the resources that are available.
“When our resources are limited to just the council’s own funding that’s clearly a further challenge to this complex area of work, as well as to the wider services the council is able to fund in our community.”
Rother Valley’s Conservative MP, Alexander Stafford said: “Earlier this year, I wrote to Vicky Ford MP, the then-Minster for Children and Families at the request of Sharon Kemp, Chief Executive of RMBC, to ask for assistance in securing funding from the Department for Education.
“I have consistently backed calls for funding to be available and have requested a meeting with the Government to discuss this situation. I will leave no stone unturned in the fight against CSE.”