Fears kids will bear brunt of cuts

County Hall in Preston
County Hall in Preston

More than 100 posts are due to be lost at Lancashire County Council as part of further government budget cuts.

The council has said that there will be 119 fewer posts at grade 10 and below in the new structure overall compared to the current one, in various services across the council, including children and young people.

A county council worker, who did not wish to be named, said that families and vulnerable children would feel the changes “quite badly”, adding that the council “does not think ahead and put systems in place.”

David Borrow, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, said the council was “fully committed to doing everything possible to avoid compulsory redundancies”, adding that frontline services would be protected “as much as possible”.

The correspondent said that the council was given money by the government in September to put in place a “conversion team” to help children with Special Educational Needs statements to access education, health and care plans.

But they said the council instead used current staff to do the work, impacting on their day to day roles.

They said: “It’s a real stitch-up to be quite honest.

“They were actually given money, but they haven’t used it until now.

“Instead they used the current staff and as a result they haven’t been able to do their normal day to day job.

“The families have missed out on the support they should normally get from the local authority like looking at funding and attending meetings.

“I think there are going to be more cuts to local authority spending, but it’s how the authority deals with it.

“In my view they don’t think ahead and put things in place.

“There are a lot of vulnerable children out there and families are going to feel this quite badly.”

The county council said there are more than 5,500 children with statements of special educational needs in Lancashire. The process of converting statements to education, health and care plans started in September 2014 and needs to be completed by March 2018.

David Graham, special educational needs and disability manager for north Lancashire, said: “Here in the north of the county, we have used the government funding to recruit four additional staff to create a dedicated conversion team to work on the process of converting statements of educational need to education, health and care plans.

“We are continually reviewing this team’s work to see if additional staff are needed in future.

“This team will not be affected by the council’s transformation project.

“We are consulting on a new structure for the broader Special Educational Needs and Disability Team in which roles have been redefined according to the Children and Families Act.

“The net effect of the proposed changes does not have a significant impact on numbers of staff in the service.

“Throughout this process there has been no reduction in the service we provide for children with special educational needs or disabilities.”