CUTS WILL PUT THE LIVES OF CHILDREN AND VULNERABLE AT RISK – warns Unison

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Union banners from Sheffield, Derby, London and other towns and cities as workers converge on London last April, warning of devastating attacks on public services
Union banners from Sheffield, Derby, London and other towns and cities as workers converge on London last April, warning of devastating attacks on public services

Public sector union Unison on Tuesday published a dossier of cuts hitting social work departments, warning that, together with existing shortages, cuts will put the lives of children and vulnerable adults at risk.

The union said that cuts are slashing admin support, training and early intervention support work that social workers depend on – exacerbating the perennial problems of crippling caseloads and high vacancy rates.

Unison is calling on councils to dip into reserves and boost council tax collection, to avoid cutting any more holes in the extremely fragile safety net protecting vulnerable children and adults.

Its dossier of cuts hitting social work departments includes:

London

‘Haringey – The training budget cut includes abolishing the adult social work training scheme.

‘Cuts are also being threatened to non mainstream social work elements such as the Youth Offending Service, and reductions are occurring in all admin positions, there are also confirmed reductions in admin/finance support.

‘There may be cuts in non statutory elements of their work, much of this falls under prevention/intervention and was funded by the now abolished areas based grant.

‘Lewisham – As a part of £16 million cuts, the council’s hospital social worker team will be deleted.

South East

‘Thurrock – Ten front line social worker posts cut from children’s services, and the thresholds for intervention have been made higher.

‘Cases have been cut in the Child in Need section to focus on child protection.

‘Most of the child protection staff are agency workers and there is a current recruitment freeze.

‘With 38 per cent of posts unfilled, this council already has the highest vacancy rate – more than three times the national average.

‘Of 110 posts in children’s and adults’ services, 42 were vacant as of June 2010, with a vacancy rate of 35 per cent in children’s services and 52 per cent in adults’ services.

‘Milton Keynes – The emergency social work team will be reorganised so that staff provide night cover on standby at home, rather than on duty at work, saving £60,000.

‘The authority is reducing early intervention funding by 17 per cent, from £12.1m to £10.1m.

‘Funding for community-based preventative programmes through the Children’s Fund will be cut by £200,000. A further £50,000 will be cut from teenage pregnancy projects.

‘Hampshire – 180 jobs are to be axed in children’s services at Hampshire County Council in £25m cut; this includes four social work posts in special educational needs.

‘West Sussex County Council – social work has been protected, but Admin support in social work will be hit as “office services” that provide admin are centrally run, to find £3million over next three years, so will reduce down what admin staff have to do – leaving social workers to pick up the pieces.

South West

‘Southampton City Council – is planning to make cuts in residential children’s homes, starting with a reduction of £300,000 per year for the next three financial years.

‘The savings are achieved by introducing lower graded posts to replace some of the social work staff.

‘The union is about to ballot members on whether to accept the outcome of a disputes hearing on the issue, or move to an industrial action ballot.

‘Children’s services IT is also set to suffer, with annual cuts of £45,000, starting this financial year – social workers use this system.

‘Gloucestershire – is cutting back on family intervention projects and parenting programmes, as part of £3.2million cuts.

‘The family intervention project run by the council will now only focus only on Gloucester city and the roll-out to other areas would be scrapped.

‘The council is also stopping the expert parenting role that helps families identified as most at-risk of causing anti-social behaviour.

‘Devon – Torbay’s children’s services department has to make £2.1million cuts to meet its £21.5million budget for 2011/12.

‘A recent report by the department’s deputy director Richard Williams warned that efficiency cuts may see a reduction in the response to helpdesk calls by social workers, family support workers and health professionals.

‘The report asks the council for extra funding of £456,000 to pay for the expected rise in child protection referrals, which will lead to more children in care.

West Midlands

‘Birmingham – It is not yet known how many people will lose their jobs, but the council is looking to save £10m in the remodelling of children’s social care in 2011-2012, increasing to £16m the year after, so they could run into hundreds.

‘Stoke on Trent – Children’s services have taken a big hit as part of the council’s £36 million cuts.

‘Proposals recently voted on laid out plans to delete two Social Work posts on the fostering team, as well as a raft of reductions in funding and staff across social care services for both children and adults, including reducing the social work training budget by £46,000.

‘A significant reduction in various children’s services which undertake preventative work to reduce the need for children and families to have need of social work input.

East Midlands

‘Leicester City – Children’s Services is facing a reduction of £13.1 million, which equates to £9.6m in grants and £3.5m.

‘The Access, Inclusion and Participation Division which provides advice, intervention and support to some of the most vulnerable in the City appears to be facing the biggest cuts with the loss of 45 posts.

‘The Youth Service is also facing substantial cuts. Learning Services who provide targeted support to schools, have reduced curriculum consultants by 50 per cent, a loss of 14 posts and the Leicester and Leicestershire Learning Alliance (staff who transferred from the Learning Skills Council) providing specialist advice for 13 -19 year olds, is being completely deleted with the loss of a further six posts.

‘Northamptonshire County Council – Youth work, £4m cut in 2011-12, and a further £3m cut in 2012-13. This includes reductions in Parent Support Advisors (early intervention work).

‘In Children’s services there will be an almost 50. per cent reduction in Assistant Youth Offending Team workers, disabled children and their families will receive smaller individual budgets, and £50k less will be spent on information, support and advice to parents regarding their children with special needs.

‘Lincolnshire County Council – 13 specialist mental health social workers are possibly facing the axe. Each one of these members of staff works with 40 young people under the age of 18 who have problems including self-harming, as well as those who have attempted suicide or have social phobias.

‘Notts City – There are three social work posts in adult social workers going. In fostering and adoption, five social work posts are being deleted. Also have youth workers, play workers and education welfare officers facing the axe. Admin across the city council, is being massacred – reducing jobs by 50 per cent from 1000 to 500.

Eastern Region

‘Norfolk County Council – 90 social workers are facing the axe, and the council’s children’s services department is taking a big hit with 470 posts earmarked for the axe including frontline those social workers, social care managers, as well as the closure of the Unthank Family Centre in Norwich and the break up of a specialist family conferencing team to help problem families stay together.

‘Peterborough – £3.6 million will be cut from children’s services in 2011/12, rising to £7.8 million from 2012/13.

North West

‘Manchester – Is accepting voluntary redundancies from social workers, especially those over 55. With 17 per cent of council workers facing the axe, back office staff will be hit hard, leaving social workers to pick up the paperwork.

‘Cumbria – £32 million is set to be cut from children’s services, with 300 redundancies out of a total of 611 redundancies at the council overall coming from children’s services. The Council is consulting on the cuts, which include special needs teachers, Sure Start children’s centres, Connexions, youth offending and teenage pregnancy services.’