Birmingham to refer fewer children to save money

    Birmingham's widely criticised children's services department is poised to cut the number of interventions as part of a cost-saving plan under which 3,500 children's services jobs are to be axed. Picture: REX FEATURES

    Birmingham’s widely criticised children’s services department is poised to cut the number of interventions as part of a cost-saving plan under which 3,500 children’s services jobs are to be axed.

    The council’s budget consultation, published yesterday, proposed a “remodelling [of] children’s social care services, producing a more streamlined management structure with fewer posts and a reduced number of referrals and children in care”.

    It added: “This service is intended to focus on children with complex needs alongside colleagues from partner agencies.”

    Birmingham was unable to say how many social work posts would be lost.

    The consultation document also proposed that non-statutory services be “reduced or ceased”.

    Youth services and family support will be restructured into “multi-disciplinary teams around the family, focused on children with additional needs”.

    The department’s administrative budget will be cut by 30%.

    The document proposed an overhaul of the department which, in February 2009, was issued with a government improvement notice after safeguarding failings.

    It said that, due to the need to maintain investment in safeguarding, the children, young people and families directorate had been given a “significantly reduced” target percentage saving for 2011-12 compared with other council services.

    In 2011-12, the council hopes to save £10m in the remodelling of children’s social care, increasing to £16m the year after.

    The proposed cuts come after a series of difficulties for Birmingham children’s services. As well as the improvement notice, the department has been in the media spotlight because of the Khyra Ishaq case and the council’s failure to allocate child protection cases to qualified social workers .

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