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248 jobs roles to be axed for city council to find £5.5m for children's services following damning report

City Council bosses say cutting 248 jobs is a last resort, as it looks to make savings to spend more on children's services in Stoke-on-Trent.

Back in March, Ofsted published a damning report rating services as inadequate.

It said that vulnerable children in the city were not safeguarded, and social workers caseloads were too high for them to work effectively. 

The authority says that now protecting young people has to be its number one priority.

The city council finalised the budget for this year in February - before the Ofsted report was published.

Staff were told today that it is looking at proposals to fund a £5.5m 're-direction' of funds, including cutting 248 job roles - including 86 vacant posts.

They include:

  • Transformation of services with a view to delivering more effectively and efficiently.
  • Controls on all non-essential spending on areas such as recruitment and travel.
  • Reviewing contracts and continuing to identify alternative funding sources and additional income.
  • Review of landscaping maintenance.

Around 75 jobs will be lost from the streetcare and greenspace team, who look after parks and green spaces, and keep the streets of the city clean.

70 could also go from 'restructuring' the Social Care Health Integration & Wellbeing Directorate.

Council leader Abi Brown has described the current situation they are facing as a 'perfect storm', as they have seen an unprecedented demand for children’s social care services, with the number of children in care increasing to 890 in recent months - at the same time as national funding has continued to fall and costs have continued to rise.

She said: “The recent Ofsted inspection highlighted the urgent need to make children’s services and protecting our vulnerable young people our number one priority. From day one of our administration, we have been clear that this will be our main focus. As a cabinet, we are committed to ensuring that improvement and investment in children’s services go hand in hand, and these mid-year proposals will allow us to re-direct necessary funding so that we can make this happen.
Council leader Abi Brown

“The funding issues facing all councils are well known, and Stoke-on-Trent City Council is not alone in this challenge of ensuring that we can effectively support the most vulnerable within our communities against a backdrop of increasing demand and tightening funding. Providing just one day’s worth of social care for children, adults with learning disabilities and older people costs £400,000.

“As a council with good financial management at its centre, we have to understand and adapt to emerging risks and demands no matter how challenging. We are a well-managed council delivering a strong economy, bringing quality jobs and businesses to the city, new and affordable housing and improving schools, but we have to prioritise and accelerate investment in children in the city. These are tough decisions to make but we have to press ahead with these proposals so that we can meet the real and significant demands on our services now. This investment in children is absolutely the right thing to do. This is about taking responsible and immediate action to meet our legal duty to deliver a balanced budget.”

Stoke Central's Labour MP Gareth Snell said: "Only weeks after an election in which the Conservative and City Independents talked of investing in our City, they’re now slashing and burning services.

"Making staff redundant through secret plans is the hallmark of an administration out of ideas and out of compassion for the people they serve.

"They should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves and start focusing their efforts on securing fairer funding from their friends in Westminster rather than taking jobs from hard working public servants in Stoke-on-Trent."

Stoke North's Labour MP Ruth Smeeth said: "This is the reality of a Conservative Government. Over 20% cut in the city councils budget since 2010.

"We've seen cuts to all our services for nearly a decade because of Conservative austerity. That was political decision. And today we've seen our Conservative-led administration fail to manage its budget and make drastic cutbacks just 6 months after they passed their own budget.

"Regardless of the politics the only people who will suffer from these decisions are the residents of our city and the councils workforce. We've had enough of the cuts.

"We deserve better."

A consultation on the proposals will continue until 25 September, before being considered by the council in October.

You can have your say here: www.stoke.gov.uk/midyearbudget.

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