133 jobs to go as Leicester axe 23 children’s centres

Leicester City Council are to axe 133 posts at 23 children’s centres in a bid save £3.4 million.

Staff were due to be told which posts will be cut following a consultation in which parents were asked which activities at each centre they valued the most.

A council spokesman said: “We will begin the formal staffing review today, with a view to reducing the overall number of posts by 133.

“These will include managers’ and administration posts.”

Council bosses said they would be seeking voluntary redundancies in the first instance.

However, union leaders said the quality of service would suffer and the losses would come from front-line staff who are vital in its day-to-day running.

Gary Garner, branch secretary for Unison, said: “This is devastating news.

“We knew there were to be losses, but this is even bigger than we had imagined.

“Although the council says that there are vacant posts which won’t be filled, that only amounts to 40 so, inevitably, there are going to be large-scale compulsory redundancies.

“This is a continuation of the piecemeal approach to cuts which essentially prevents the public from seeing the full picture.

“In essence, this administration has presided over the biggest decimation of social care, both for adults and children, this city has ever known.”

Children’s centres provide a range of advice and support to parents, including on health and benefits.

The council said Government support for children’s services has been reduced by £11 million, out of a budget of £58 million.

The administration said it was determined to keep all of the centres open and would forge ahead with plans to reorganise them into six clusters which could work closely together to share services.

The council spokesman said: “We have 40 vacant posts, which will be used to reduce the impact on staff.

“We’ll also be offering voluntary redundancies and will provide training and support to help staff move to jobs in other parts of the council wherever possible.

“Feedback from the consultation has been used to draw up the proposed changes.

“For instance, parents told us the activity they value most is Stay and Play, and this will continue to be offered at every centre.

“Every service will continue to be provided in each cluster area, but not necessarily in every building. At least one building will stay open all day in every cluster area.”

Councillor Vi Dempster, assistant city mayor for children, said: “We value our children’s centres and want to ensure we continue to provide excellent services in all areas of the city.

“However, because of massive Government cuts in funding, the only way we can achieve this is to change the way we operate them.

“I understand this is a difficult time for staff. However, I assure them we will do everything in our power to reduce jobs losses.”