Council budget cuts are having a mixed impact on children’s social care across the country with some proposing to delete social worker posts, training budgets and administration support but others looking to increase investment.
Councils looking to finalise budgets include Stoke on Trent, which is planning to cut two frontline social worker posts, one social work manager in their referrals team and two social work assistants who assist with caseloads and risk monitoring. In addition, five posts in the administration support team for social workers will go as will one of two quality assurance posts for children’s care placements. The council’s social worker training budget has been slashed by £46,000.
A backlash in the community has meant the council has backtracked on cutting its short breaks for disabled children and closing seven of its 16 children’s centres. Instead it appears to be intending to make deeper cuts to its Think Family intervention project for families in crisis and also its Family Support Network which targets families where previous intervention has failed, although this is being clarified with the council.
Lewisham Council is also planning to make cuts which include cutting one post-adoption social worker and social work assistants working in the referrals team. There will also be a reduction in administration staff. The council is also intending to take at least three children out of residential care placements and move them into foster care. Further savings will be made by no longer paying barristers to represent the council in court but using its own staff instead.
Cardiff Council has also proposed to withdraw a weekend working allowance to social workers. Instead, the proposal is to shift to a more flexible working pattern with days off in-lieu whenever weekends are worked. However, the council’s executive rejected most of the proposed £4.7m savings in the children’s services departments, which would have included massive cuts to all parts of children’s social care.
Manchester and Essex councils have proposed to increase their spending on child protection and looked-after children. Essex is planning to spend an extra £37m. Manchester is planning to increase its budget for looked-after children by more than £6m and increase the number of children’s social workers.
What do you think? Join the debate on CareSpace
Keep up to date with the latest developments in social care. Sign up to our daily and weekly emails