Child services ‘hampered’ by Stoke council cuts

Council cuts could severely hamper the way children’s services are provided in Stoke-on-Trent, according to a social workers’ organisation.

Children’s and Young People’s services is being cut by £9.5m – nearly a fifth of its entire budget – next year.

Sue Kent, from British Association of Social Workers, (BASW) said there are concerns for “all sorts” of aspects of social work.

The council said maintaining the level of care and safety remains a priority.

Earlier this month, the council, a Labour-led coalition with the Liberal Democrats, said seven children’s centres had been saved from closure at the expense of libraries, care homes and a swimming pool.

‘Significant effects’

Last November, it was announced that the council would be cutting about 700 jobs at it looked to make savings of more than £30m.

It is not yet known what specific areas will be affected, the council said.

But Ms Kent said social workers throughout England are facing a “very difficult position” as the government cuts are brought in.

“The concern we have (in Stoke-on-Trent) is that there are very vulnerable people in the city and very vulnerable children and families which are going to not receive services which may lead to significant effects in the child protection arena,” she said.

“There are concerns here for all sort of aspects of social work particularly the actual cuts of social work on front-line services.”

In a statement the council said: “The safety and welfare of our children is paramount.

“We have taken this into account throughout the budget process and will continue to provide a comprehensive service to the young people of the city in all areas covered by children and young people’s services.

“We have dedicated staff whose work has been recognised nationally in a number of key areas and, whilst we acknowledge the government-imposed budget cuts will give us new challenges, we give a firm commitment to the families of Stoke-on-Trent that they will continue to receive the best possible help and advice.”