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Council set to take decision on early help service cuts

Published on Friday, March 17, 2017

THE city council is set to formalise a decision to make initial budget savings of around £3.6 million a year by reducing its early help services.

The council needs to reduce its spending on non-statutory services as it looks for ways to make savings of up to £55 million by 2020. This is on top of the £100 million of savings it has already made, following Government grant cuts.

The original proposal for £4m of cuts was revised following a 12-week consultation programme, which included meetings with staff, service users and trades unions. The council changed 12 of its 25 proposals for achieving savings, including putting on hold the proposed 50% reduction in funding, over three years, for adventure playgrounds.

Under the revised proposals, this will be put on hold while further information is gathered on what services are provided at the playgrounds, and who uses them.

Other changes would see funding for the welfare rights service offered in children’s centres cut by just 40% instead of completely ending.

Funding for the children’s centre teacher service, which was set to end this year, will continue to be paid for from a central pot of money provided by schools, until at least April 2018.  This pot will now also pay for the Bookstart service, which was proposed to end.

Proposals which would see the number of children, young people and family centres reduced from 23 to 12 remain unchanged.

Cllr Sarah Russell, the city council’s asst city mayor for children, young people and families said: “We carried out a very thorough review of our services before putting forward these proposals and have listened carefully to all of the views and ideas put forward during our extensive consultation.

“While we still have to make millions of pounds of savings, we have amended around half of our proposals in light of the comments received, and will continue to do everything we can to minimise the impact they will have.”

The formal decision will be made on March 27, with changes brought in from April 1.