Nurseries & youth services under threat as Birmingham announces 1,300 redundancies

PRE-SCHOOL community nurseries face closure and services for teenagers could be slashed following the announcement of almost 1,300 redundancies.

Shocked staff at Birmingham City Council’s Children, Young People and Families department were told that 1,291 jobs could be axed in a bid to save money, the majority from nurseries and youth services.

The total at risk make up more than ten per cent of the department’s non-school work force.

Child protection services, the division which was last year rated as ‘inadequate’ by Government inspectors, is not affected. The losses among nursery staff may be linked to a plan to sell off or close the stand alone community day nurseries, keeping only those attached to Government-backed Children’s Centres or Surestart facilities.

A total of 708 staff will be cut from the youth services section, which includes the Connexions advice service to help youngsters find work or training. It is designed to plug a £16.3 million hole in the department’s budget. With the costly Building Schools for the Future programme and social care protected from cuts, all other sections are at risk.

Unison union representative Caroline Johnson said: “This has come as a huge shock to staff. This level of cutbacks will have an impact on frontline services.

“If the council needs to make savings it should look at the private consultants rather than destroy services which are valued by the people of Birmingham.”

The Conservative councillor running Children, Young People and Families Les Lawrence was not available for interview. His colleague, city human resources chief Alan Rudge, said: “We will do everything we can to protect frontline services, I would not want to see any reduction in our youth services.”

He blamed cuts in Government funding for the financial pressure and warned of further job losses, saying: “Every area of this city council has to be looked it.”

An official Birmingham City Council statement said: “The city is taking a structured and strategic review through our workforce planning to respond to our current financial pressures. Through this planning framework we’ll review and look to mitigate job losses where we can.”

The council’s House of Sport, which has been working to bring spin-offs from the London 2012 Olympics to Birmingham as well as developing grass roots sport, could have a further 80 redundancies.