A DEDICATED therapy service for children with speech problems is being cancelled to save cash.Now an opposition councillor has accused the borough of putting spending cuts before childrens’ welfare.
Councillor John Major (Lab, Barnhill), said: “I am dead against making savings in areas that affect the most vulnerable people.
“If children’s centre funding is cut then the services available for them are at risk, and we could end up with nothing in this area.
“Everyone knows how important it is for children to be able to speak and communicate when they start their journey through life. To withdraw this service is a real blow to the ambitions of these young children and their parents.”
Since November 2010, children’s centres in the borough have received cash for enhanced resources to deal with under-fives with communication difficulties.
Speech and language therapists identify issues and refer children onward, for the most suitable level of treatment.
This was in addition to a standard assessment service offered at the centres, through which parents could book appointments with Early Years practitioners and attend drop-in sessions, known as Small Talk.
But in April, a review of the enhanced service was carried out as Hillingdon Council searched to make savings through financial efficiencies.
It found that while Small Talk and other special needs provisions were very popular and effective, and should be retained, the bolstered service was less well received, and the two were overlapping in the services they were offering.
From this month it will cease.
Jean Palmer, the council’s director of education said: “All of the speech and language services that are currently offered in our children’s centres will be continued, including Small Talk sessions, Rhymetime, Storytime and Stay and Play.
“We will continue to work closely with health colleagues regarding early years provision in our children’s centres.”
Hayes and Harlington MP John McDonnell (Lab) is also worried.
“I do not believe that the children’s centres can make up for this loss of expertise in what is a very specialised area of work,” he said.
n What do you think of the move? Will it affect you, or is it a sensible saving of public money? www.uxbridge