Child care leader hits out at NSPCC

Child care leader hits out at NSPCC

ONE of Scotland’s most respected childcare professionals has written to national children’s charity NSPCC urging it to reconsider plans to move into Scotland.

Margaret McKay, who has established a national reputation as a professional leader in social work and childcare in Scotland over the past 40 years, has questioned NSPCC chief executive Andrew Flanagan over why the charity is set to break with  more than 100 years of convention and operate services in Scotland for the first time.

In the letter McKay makes it clear that she believes the NSPCC’s move is unnecessary and will place Scottish charities under greater fInancial pressure – as well as creating public contUsion.

McKay said that given the rising disquiet in the charitable sector about the NSPCC’s plans to appoint a head of service in Scotland and to run Scottish services, Flanagan, the former head of  television channel STV, should re-think the proposal.

However, the NSPCC. which has appointed a new £60. year head of services for Scotland to start in August, is refusing to back down from itsplau’t,o begin operating services in Scotland.

The new head of services will be Ie’sponsible for establishing face-to-face services in Scotland and recruiting a Scottish workforce. He will also represent the NSPCC to the Scottish Government.

Currently NSPCC’s role in Scotland includes ChildLine, which is run by Children 1st on its behalf, and the funding of a research unit at Edinburgh University. It spends £Sm annually in Scotland.

The move to develop its own unique services has led to an outcry from Scottishchildren’s charities, including Children 1st, which is concerned that money donated by the Scottish public will now end up being spent in England.

Speaking to TFN,McKay said:

"While there is no hesitation in welcoming any measure that helps to prevent one more child from being subject to abuse or neglect, the question has to be asked does the NSPCC not think this can be done by Children 1st or indeed any of the other excellent children’s charities in Scotland?

"This is all the more puzzling given the fact that there has been reports that the NSPCC has already outlined a major restructing plan which will see local centres in England close."

Responding to McKay’s concerns, Hanagan told TFN that while the NSPCC may increase its fundraising in Scotland, all money raised in Scotland will be spent in Scotland.

"This shouldn’t be about charities being at each other’s throats," he said. "1 don’t buy into the idea that there’s some sort of a finite pot of money that has to be divvied up. We’ve seen charity fundraising and donations increase in recent years and Scotland is one of the most generous parts of the UK.

"We expect our fundraising arrangements, which we quite often do in cooperation with Children 1st, to continue. We’re not looking to work in isolation in Scotland."

Hanagan also denied that the NSPCC is closing services in England, stating that it is increasing its services. Restructuring will reduce 120 service centres to 40 much larger centres, with the charity employing 30 per cent more children’s services practitioners.

No decision has yet been made about what services the NSPCC will operate in Scotland, but Hanagan claims it will not be competing against other children’s charities for public service contracts.

"The new head of services will be working with local authorities and government to identify where there are gaps right now," he said.

"We’re looking to bring something different here, we’re not looking to replicate what everyone else does. There would be no point in doing that."

A founding director of ChildLine Scotland from 1989 to 94, McKay was also chief executive of Children’s Hospice Association of Scotland (CHAS) and led the team that established Scotland’s first children’s hospices.

McKay was appointed chief executive of Children 1st in 1999.

During her time with Children 1st, the relationship between it and NSPCC which had lasted for 125 years – was as sister charities working for the benefit of children in respective parts of the UK.