Call for abuse victims to get ‘disaster’ funds

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion
Rotherham MP Sarah Champion
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Abuse Victims in Rotherham are being denied the funds an emergency involving 1,400 people would normally generate, ministers have been told.

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion has accused the Government of failing the town as she revealed there are just two outreach workers helping sexual abuse victims in the borough, one of which works for her.

Pushing for more resources after the Jay report revealed at least 1,400 girls, and probably many hundreds more, were abused as a result of council and police failings, Ms Champion said she had received no replies from repeated request for Treasury help.

She told MPs: “If there had been a natural disaster in Rotherham that effected 1,400 people and the council and police had in-sufficient resources to deal with it, of course Government would intervene.

“I would expect a visit from the Prime Minister, national co-ordination of charities, Government experts to arrive and, as top priority, resources and support for the victims and survivors. To date we have had nothing.”

Her cash plea came on the day Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced the five commissioners to lead services in Rotherham following a Government takeover.

Mr Pickles said Sir Derek Myers will be the Lead Commissioner, Stella Manzie will take the role of the Managing Director Commissioner and Malcolm Newsam will be nominated as Children’s Social Care Commissioner.

He said Mary Ney and Julie Kenny will be supporting commissioners.

The managing commissioner will be handed a £160,000 pay packet, some £60,000 above the chief executive pay figure Mr Pickles has previously said should result in a council salary vote.

The Communities Secretary also announced a two-year £250,000 fund to pay for a new children’s outreach programme similar to the successful Risky Business charity taken over by the council in what many have suggested was an attempt to silence abuse concerns.

Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey said the cash Mr Pickles announced was “less than half of one per cent of the cuts Rotherham council will make this April”.

Ms Champion added the figure while welcome was “a drop in the ocean”, adding that “we need a fully independent unit that is just there to support victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation”.

She added: “I would like the Minister to recognise that Rotherham police force has to pay for the intervention of the National Crime Agency from Rotherham’s policing budget.

“Rotherham Council has to pay for the Casey Report and the subsequent commissioners from Rotherham’s existing resources.

“This is taking more money away from a town that needs more resources, not less, at a time when our police budget has been reduced by the Government by 20% and the local authority budget has been reduced by 40%.

““How are we realistically meant to cope? Why is the Government compounding the horror we already endure?”

Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat minister for child sexual exploitation, described the findings in the Alexis Jay report as “grave indeed” and said they represented a “complete dereliction of duty” but stopped short of promising new funds.