Redbridge councillors set to vote on £3.6m cuts in children’s and youth services budget
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Redbridge Council will decide on more than £3.6m in cuts to children’s and youth services today, Thursday.
Children’s services make up nearly a third (29per cent) of more than £12.3m total spending cuts outlined in the council’s savings schedule for the coming financial year 2018-19.
The biggest, £751,000, is projected to be made by cutting 14 full-time staff positions within the council’s children and families department.
This is closely followed by cutting the budget for placing children “looked after” by the local authority into homes by £750,000.
Children become classified as “looked after” when a care order is issued to grant local authority responsibility over the child.
They are then found foster parents, adoptive parents or placed in children’s homes run by voluntary groups or the local authority.
In 2017, the council looked after 230 children, according to figures provided by the Department for Education, up from 175 in 2007.
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According to the schedule, this cut will be offset by other projects aiming to increase “in-house foster care” recruitment and reviewing Independent Fostering Agencies contracts as well as an emphasis on preventing children needing to go into care.
Services for under-fives also face a £500,000 funding cut through a “whole system review.”
Ilford Lane charity Redbridge Forum aims to improve the quality of life for people with learning disabilities and their carers.
Commenting on the cuts, a spokeswoman said: “We believe planned cuts to children’s short breaks services will put a huge strain on families which will give short term savings but, ultimately, cost more in crisis management.”
Leader of the Conservative Group Cllr Paul Canal said: “We understand that after Labour’s recession we have to make cuts.
“But we would make better decisions.”
He added: “Before you start prestige projects such as building swimming pools on the edge of the borough you have to look after the most vulnerable in your community, be it the elderly or looked after children.”
Councillor Kam Rai said: “The vast majority of our budget goes into children’s services.”
He added: “It’s easy to criticise without actually offering an alternative.”
The schedule will be put to full council vote tonight (February 22).