Missing People charity faces battle for survival

Labour MP urges government not to cut half a million pounds from the charity

Missing People chief executive Martin Houghton-Brown
Missing People chief executive Martin Houghton-Brown

Missing People could be left fighting for survival if the government presses ahead with plans to withdraw funding of £500,000, its chief executive Martin Houghton-Brown has warned.

Labour MP Ann Coffey will urge ministers to help the charity in an adjournment speech in Parliament today on the future of services for missing people.

Houghton-Brown said that if the government did not listen there could be ‘catastrophic’ consequences for the charity, which has 45 staff and 75 volunteers.

The charity, which was known as the National Missing Persons Helpline until 2007, faces the loss of a £350,000 grant from the National Policing Improvement Agency, which was included on the Cabinet list of quangos for abolition.

A £150,000 strategic grant from the Department for Education for the charity’s runaways helpline is also due to expire.

Houghton-Brown said government support was vital for ‘pump priming’ other sources of funding and that if the funding was removed, the police would have to pay more to deliver the same service.

"If other funders pull out as a consequence of the government doing so, it could be catastrophic," he said.

Coffey, who is chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, said: "Rather than remove the missing person’s infrastructure, we must maintain investment and underpin it with new legislation, which both supports existing services and fills in much-needed gaps."

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