Have more council job cuts pushed services into ‘crisis’?

PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 March 2017

It is feared cuts to North Somerset Council's education staff will impact on schools.

It is feared cuts to North Somerset Council's education staff will impact on schools.

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North Somerset’s children could be facing bleaker futures as job cuts threaten to decimate a council department responsible for providing education services in the district.

The Mercury can reveal a third of workers in North Somerset Council’s learning and achievement department – which provides support and services to schools – will lose their jobs in the next few months.

The council says the redundancies are necessary to offset the withdrawal of the Government’s Education Services Grant, which it historically received to provide certain services in schools, as it says the loss of this grant will cost the authority more than £1.5million per year.

However, workers’ union Unison warned cuts from central Government to local authorities meant North Somerset’s public services were at ‘crisis point’.

Helen Thornton is Unison’s North Somerset branch secretary. She told the Mercury: “These redundancies have a massive impact on the lives of those concerned and have been caused by the Government’s withdrawal of funding, along with more schools becoming academies and joining multi-academy trusts.

“But these are not the only redundancies and cuts being made by the council – cuts are affecting pretty much every council service.

“We now have a situation where many of our most vital public services, such as social care provided by councils and the NHS, are at crisis point.”

The decision was also slated by Weston Central ward councillor Mike Bell, who said: “North Somerset has slashed support services – or passed on costs to schools to deal with the pressure.

“The result will be poorer support for school improvement and a greater risk that local children will be let down.”

The council said although some transitional funding had been secured until August 2017, the cuts were unavoidable.

A council spokesman said: “As a consequence (of the withdrawal of the grant), the council has had to make compensatory savings.

“This has been done by reducing services to those required just to deliver statutory responsibilities in relation to education, and by applying charges to maintained schools to deliver some of the council’s statutory education services.”

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