Cuts Watch #327: Children’s services
News from Birmingham and Cumbria suggests that the local government cuts may threaten vulnerable children. At Cumbria County Council, children’s services account for nearly half the redundancies threatened by a package designed to save £50 million – 300 out of 611.
The Council is consulting on the possible cuts, which include special needs teachers, Sure Start children’s centres, Connexions, youth offending and teenage pregnancy services. In Birmingham, the Council is consulting on plans to cut 3,500 jobs, reducing or eliminating most of the services the Council is not required to provide by statute and cutting the administration budget for the children’s services department by 30 per cent. There is an explicit reference to the possibility of reducing the number of child referrals to save money – Community Care reports that the plans include “remodelling [of] children’s social care services, producing a more streamlined management structure with fewer posts and a reduced number of referrals and children in care”.
Update: Community Care also reports that, as part of the same consultation, Birmingham is considering limiting social care to “critical” needs. There are four levels of care need: low, moderate, substantial and critical. For some time most local authorities funded some moderate care needs and most still fund substantial needs. There is even the possibility that Birmingham may introduce a new “super critical” level of need and only fund that. (CC points out that this may be unlawful.)