Birmingham Council is making £13m worth of cuts of within children’s services, with almost 1,500 job posts set to disappear, but has decided to protect and accelerate its investment in preventive services.
The approach is in contrast to Southampton Council which has decided to cut more than £2m from its planned investment in outsourced preventive services over the next four years. Community Care is still awaiting the details of what percentage the cut is of the total planned investment in preventive services and what areas will be most affected.
Southampton is also planning to make cuts in residential children’s homes, starting with a reduction of £300,000 per year for the next three financial years. Children’s services IT is also set to suffer, with annual cuts of £45,000, starting this financial year.
However, Councillor Les Lawrence, Birmingham cabinet member for children’s social care, told Community Care that he has managed to protect the £23m set aside for preventive services over the next 15 years, which he plans to use to help save money long-term.
“The £23m is still there and protected, but obviously if this pressure with budgets goes on for four or five years, I need to start investing it at an earlier and faster rate,” he said. “That way, I hope we don’t have to use the more reactive services, which can be hugely expensive.”
Lawrence said preventive services were going to focus on young children on the cusp of mental illness, more targeted services, and work around childhood obesity. The council would do some of this work, he said, through the third sector.
Lawrence said the council had evidence from a series of pilots, already in place, that tackling these issues as early as possible would save the council money in the long-term.
Community Care is still waiting for a break-down of the job cuts planned in Birmingham.