Cuts Watch #180: Cuts to Connexions continue
The cuts to Connexions keep on coming. In Northumberland, the service is facing a cut of £642,000, 24 per cent of its total budget. Staff have been told that redundancies are inevitable, and have also been asked to consider moving to a three day week. And this experience is not isolated – Children and Young People Now believe that some Connexions partnerships face budget cuts of around 50 per cent. The survey was completed by 56 Connexions services across the country, and found that more than one in 10 are facing budget cuts of between 41 and 50 per cent this year, with another 43 per cent expecting to lose at least a fifth of their budget.
The Department for Education’s strategy for management of this bad news is also becoming clearer – although they have removed the funding they accept no responsiblity for the cuts, as they maintain that the removal of ringfencing means local authorities could have chosen to cut something else instead. A spokesperson told the BBC that: “We have been clear that it is for local authorities to manage reductions to area-based grants across all their funding to protect front-line services. We have removed the ring-fencing of funding where possible to give local authorities maximum flexibility to find efficiency savings in ways that respond to local needs.”
A contrasting assessment is provided by Slough Borough Council, who have recently announced significant cuts to children’s service across the local authority. In a statement they said that: “Central government has made a 24 percent cut to the entire Area Based Grant which has to be applied in this financial year. This has meant Slough Borough Council needs to make a £1.3 million in-year saving within Education and Children Services. Given the short notice given by central government, this has led to some very difficult decisions and meeting the cuts will require immediate reductions in a range of services provided to children, young people and families.”