In 2013 we investigated how welfare reform and austerity policies were affecting work with vulnerable families in Scotland. We interviewed the staff at 14 Intensive Family Support Services run by Barnardo’s Scotland.
We found that the way services respond to families struggling with complex challenges had to change, in order to match the changing scale and severity of pressures on families.
In 2019 we revisited the services to see how six more years of austerity has affected the most disadvantaged children and families in Scotland and the services designed to support them.
This time we also explored the barriers to learning experienced by school children, the types of needs being presented within primary schools, and the support accessible within them.
Author: Susan Galloway
Increasingly, services are seeing families living in destitution (where they have been unable to afford two or more of essentials such as shelter, food, heating, clothing and basic toiletries over the past month). Services attributed this to welfare reform, the roll-out of universal credit and benefit sanctions.
Families referred to Intensive Family Support Services have more complex difficulties and greater needs than was the case in 2013.
Intensive Family Support services report significant cuts in local authority funding having taken place since 2013, or are anticipated imminently.
Six of the 14 Intensive Family Support services visited in 2013 have now closed and access to services has either reduced or been removed altogether in five local authority areas.
Galloway, S. (2020) Challenges from the frontline – revisited: supporting families with multiple adversities in Scotland during a time of austerity. London: NSPCC.
Scullin, K. and Galloway, S. (2014) Challenges from the frontline: supporting families with multiple adversities in a time of austerity. Edinburgh: NSPCC Scotland.
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