Disabled children bear brunt of grant cuts in East Sussex

A council is cutting the very programmes the early intervention grant was created to protect.

East Sussex Council is proposing cuts of £4.5m as a result of the government’s “streamlining” of funding for individual programmes into the single grant.

Disabled children are among those hit the hardest in East Sussex’s budget proposal discussed by its cabinet on 25 January, in one of the most detailed breakdowns of cuts on early intervention projects so far.

The council’s combined £775,000 funding of special education needs and access and disability services for children within schools will disappear. East Sussex is discussing a new system in which schools buy these services from the council. Funding for short breaks is expected to fall from £1.8m to £1.1m.

As well as £1m already slashed due to strains on council budgets, Sure Start children’s centres could have their funding cut from £9.2m to £8.5m.

Funding for preventive family support, in the form of parent support advisers, could fall from £1m to £664,000. According to the council, schools could be expected to use their pupil premium funds to supplement the council’s reduced investment in this area.

The council has had to propose these cuts because of reduced government funding along with the need to prioritise child protection services, according to a council insider. The cabinet document estimated that about 315 jobs would be lost, but the source said social work posts were protected. The council has started a recruitment drive in Canada and Australia.

“We’re going to take on a number of new social workers in order to meet the increasing demand and pressure on children’s services,” the insider said. “Part of the reason we’ve had to take funding away from these other services is because of a £5.1m injection of money to handle this pressure.”

The council will make a final decisions on the proposals soon.

What is being lost

● Short Breaks for Disabled Children

Total grant 2010-11: £1.8m

Proposed total grant 2011-12: £1.1m

Reduction: £700,000

● Think Family

Total grant 2010-11: £787,000

Proposed total grant 2011-12: £720,000

Reduction: £67,000

● Sure Start Early Years Childcare Grant – Children’s Centres:

Total grant 2010-11: £9.2m

Proposed total grant 2011-12: £8.5m

Reduction: £700,000

● Targeted Mental Health in Schools

Total grant 2010-11: £223,000

Proposed total grant 2011-12: £0

Reduction: £223,000

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