Children’s services to bear brunt of staff cuts
9:07am Wednesday 5th September 2012 in Local
THE full impact of the £35.6 million proposed council cuts has been revealed today.
Closing youth centres, reducing grass-cutting and road-gritting, and shutting supported-living homes are all being considered by Town Hall chiefs.
Plans will now go out to consultation and will need to be approved by the full council when it meets to discuss its new budget next February.
But details of where the cuts could fall can now be revealed.
Children’s services could bear the brunt of job losses, with 146 posts potentially being lost.
Buildings, including youth centres, could be closed, and remaining services focused in what the council describes as areas of the “greatest need”.
Services at children’s centres could be reduced with the focus shifted to the most vulnerable families.
Key staff who work with troubled pupils at some schools could be axed, and parents of children with special needs could be paid to drive their own children to school instead of using council transport.
Adult services could lose up to 141 jobs , and five supported-living houses — where adults with disabilities or special needs are given 24 hour support — could be transferred to the private sector.
Services at three day centres could be lost when the council’s lease expires and transferred elsewhere.
At a cabinet meeting, council leader Cllr Cliff Morris also revealed the authority was also investigating the possibility of sharing services with other councils.
Other cost-saving measures being considered include: l An across the board reduction in maintenance on infrastructure such as highways, street lighting and signs l Introducing fortnightly grey bin collections l Increasing charges for meals, transport and other services for day care users l Scrapping a dedicated graffiti-cleaning team and axing two road sweeping vehicles l Reducing grass-cutting teams l Scrapping rate relief for national charities l Reducing councillors’ budgets l Reducing funding to Bolton Community Leisure Trust — which manages nine leisure centres across the borough including the flagship Bolton One — by £400,000.
l Encouraging residents to use the internet to contact the council rather than by face-to-face, with 12 customer service jobs under threat.
l Conducting a review or winter services which could result in a reduction in road gritting or grit bins.
The proposals have yet to be ironed out, with consultations due to take place with staff unions and the public over the coming months.
Cllr Morris said the country’s growing support bill for vulnerable adults and children had left other services having to bear the brunt of cuts.
He added: “These cutbacks are due to a continuing reduction in the total amount of government grants the council receives and an unavoidable cost increase for waste disposal and transport.
“Each department has outlined detailed proposals for carrying out these savings and efficiencies but, due to legal responsibilities for adult and children’s social care and the council’s priority to ensure these are least affected, the savings targets for these services will be a significantly smaller proportion of their overall budgets in comparison to other departments.
“Adult services will be capped at £3.5 million — five per cent of the department’s budget — and children’s services will be £5.5 million, which is 10 per cent.
“As a consequence, the savings targets for environmental services will be 20 per cent of its budget, while development and regeneration will be 23 per cent.
“In addition, a further £10 million will be found from a range of corporate and cross-departmental budgets, including waste disposal, reductions in senior management, accommodation rationalisation and leisure services.
“We will be mitigating the impact of these reductions on staff wherever possible by allowing employees to take early retirement or voluntary severance and offering a comprehensive redeployment period for those who face redundancy.
“We are currently consulting with staff, stakeholders, partners and members of the public on these savings proposals and we are keen to hear the views of local people.”