Lambeth council has scrapped its special education needs (SEN) team as part of a bid to cut £90m from its budget over the next five years.
The children’s services department has been the hardest hit with local newspapers reporting that up to 215 job cuts are planned. The council refused to confirm the number of roles under threat although it admitted there will be mass redundancies throughout the council.
However, Jon Rogers, Unison Lambeth branch secretary, said he had been given an undertaking that, for the moment, social workers’ jobs were safe because of high vacancy rates.
Rogers claimed the SEN team had been scrapped because it made £40,000 less than it needed in order to pay for itself and a decision was made that schools should purchase SEN services from outside providers.
However, Rogers believes the council has failed to explore other money-saving options first.
“Why force schools to find and pay for these services outside the council when there are ways the council could continue providing this service by saving money elsewhere?” he told Community Care.
“Unison has been urging Lambeth to take on some of the hundreds of agency social workers, it currently uses, as permanent staff. It costs £20,000 more per year to employ an agency worker and it’s ridiculous the council isn’t exploring options like this.”
Local reports say the council is planning to axe 2,000 jobs in total across the council by 2015. Lambeth Council has refused to reveal any further details of the planned cuts to either Community Care or unions.