Stoke & Staffordshire

Stoke-on-Trent council jobs could go to fund children's services

A child on a park bench Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The number of children in care has increased from 740 in March 2019 to 890

"Unprecedented demand" for children's services could lead to 248 jobs being cut by a council.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council said the job losses would allow it to redirect £5.5m to deal with rising numbers.

The announcement follows an Ofsted report in March which found vulnerable children were "not being protected" and rated services inadequate.

The investment in children is "absolutely the right thing to do", the council's leader said.

The leader of the council's Labour group Mohammed Pervez says the proposed cuts show the "failings of the current administration".

The authority, run by a coalition of Conservatives and independents, says the extra cash is needed to meet the rising number of children in care, which went up from 740 in March to 890 now.

The proposed job losses would include 86 vacant posts, with 75 coming from the street cleaning and parks maintenance department and 71 through a restructure of social care. The remaining posts are expected to be lost as a result of a restructure.

"It is anticipated that most, if not all, posts would be through voluntary redundancy," a council statement said.

The council is already due to make £17m of cuts in 2019-20 and says it has made £194m of savings in the past eight years.

Conservative council leader Abi Brown said: "We have to understand and adapt to emerging risks and demands no matter how challenging.

"This investment in children is absolutely the right thing to do."

Mr Pervez said: "Hundreds of hardworking and loyal council workers are now facing job losses as a direct result of the failings of the current administration.

"Stoke-on-Trent deserves better. Enough is enough."

Tony Jones, regional organiser for the union Unison, said the proposals seemed "ill advised".

"It is a process of robbing Peter to pay Paul, and we all know consequences of that will be deficiencies in other services to vulnerable people."

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

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