Cuts Watch #344: Further cuts in children’s services
We have previously reported on how cuts are impacting on children and young people, as local councils respond to significant cuts in their funding. Further information from councils is now coming forward as they settle their financial budgets for 2011/12, which show us that these cuts are impacting on front line services and on the most vulnerable.
Lincolnshire County Council is considering cuts of up to 62 per cent to children’s services with youth services and Connexions likely to take the biggest hit. In proposals put before councillors savings of 16 per cent will need to be made to what the council calls its universal services, which include school transport services, early year’s provision and children’s centres. Targeted children’s services, which include school improvement, youth and Connexions services, will be expected to make savings of 62 per cent. The proposed measures are part of the plans to save the authority £125m over the next four years. The council’s executive will make its final decision on the budget in February.
Milton Keynes faces £4m of cuts across children and young people’s services. Connexions services, early intervention and prevention work are among services where cuts are being proposed. As part of a total of £20.6m in savings earmarked across the authority for 2011/12, a total of £3.9m is planned to come from children’s services, which equates to savings of around 6.7 per cent for the department. The budget papers reveal that the authority is faced with a reduction of 17 per cent in early intervention funding, from £12.1m to £10.1m. The authority’s budget is due to be finalised at a full meeting of the council in February.
Children’s services face £3.9m of cuts in Reading. Plans include cutting £193,000 from Early Years work, a further £134,000 is expected to be cut from the Play Service by increasing fees for holiday and after school clubs. The cost of schools meals will also be increased to save £120,000. The proposals were heard at the education and children’s services scrutiny meeting, and are due to be considered at the cabinet meeting and full council meeting this month.
Cuts of £4.5million will be made to children’s services in Dorset during the next financial year. Youth services, management costs and education support are among the areas expected to take a hit. In a report to the county council’s cabinet the council states that intended savings include £35,000 from reducing levels of loyalty payments for foster carers and £100,000 by reducing the range of support services provided to families with children experiencing difficulties. Cuts to the provision of careers advice and support for 16 to 19-year-olds to find employment or training are expected to save £650,000, and £40,000 will be cut following a review of funding and services to the Youth Offending Team.
In addition, Dorset’s children’s services will not renew its £80,000-a-year contract with the Waves Project when it expires in March. Waves is the biggest provider of family and children’s services in Weymouth and Portland, staff work with an average of 80 families annually and estimate they will have worked with 700 children and young people, with a variety of problems including suicidal tendencies, for the current year up to March 2011. These proposed cuts are part of the £27million of spending reductions that the authority will make in the next financial year, which will include 500 jobs losses.