Cuts Watch #358: Cuts in Children’s Services continue
Children and Young People Now report that Hampshire is set to slash it’s children’s services workforce. A total of 376 posts in children’s services are planned to be axed at Hampshire County Council as the authority prepares to make savings of £55m this year. The jobs, which represent 11 per cent of the children’s services workforce of 3,492, are part of a 7.1 per cent reduction in the council’s overall workforce for 2011/12. Council chiefs have said a similar reduction will have to be made in 2012/13.
Harrow Council is contemplating cutting £2.2 million from a range of children’s services, with youth workers facing the axe, according to its draft budget. The Harrow Times reports that children in Harrow face a “bleak future” as youth workers battle to keep providing services in the face of cuts. The Youth Offending Team (YOT), which works to support young people away from crime, will face £94,000 of staff reductions while youth workers and “targeted activities” will be hit to the tune of £400,000.
Nursery World provides further information on what’s happening to children’s centres around the country. East Sussex County Council says that it is facing a reduction of 20 per cent in its Early Intervention Grant for 2011/2012 compared with equivalent grants for 2010/2011 and that it has lost several other funding streams for children’s services. It says that this is likely to mean a 25 per cent reduction in children’s centre services over the medium term.
The local authority plans to close around eight children’s centres, to widen the geographical reach of the remaining centres and to concentrate its resources on settings in the 20 per cent most deprived areas. It says that it will remove access to grant funding from settings where standards fall rather than invest in improvement support, a move it admits could be ‘controversial’, particularly in rural areas. In addition, the budget for disability short breaks is to be cut by 38 per cent from £1.8m to £1.1m, which will reduce respite facilities available to parents and carers. Other areas to be hit include preventative family support services, which are to have their budget cut from £1m to £664,000.
The London Borough of Camden is to close two of its 17 children’s centres. Camden says that it has been forced to cut £3.2m from early years services and that each children’s centre has been examined against a range of key criteria. A decision on the two children’s centres will be made in May. Devon County Council is to cut £3m from its early years services but plans to reduce opening hours rather than shut children’s centres. Kirklees Council has made a statement that it is looking at revised models of working for its children’s centres, alongside other council services. In Oxfordshire plans for three new children’s centres have been scrapped.