Councillors at Stoke-on-Trent City Council have today (Thursday) agreed recommendations to fund a £5.5m redirection of cash to its children’s services.
The agreement, which was given at a full council meeting, means significant ‘investment in children’ can be prioritised in the city now and in future years, following an ‘inadequate’ rating from Ofsted earlier this year. This includes the introduction of over 130 new posts in children’s services to ensure a strong focus on improving outcomes for the most vulnerable children in the city, including over 800 children who are within the care of the city council.
Consultation took place between August 12 and October 3 – extended from an original September end date - with £5.5 million of savings consulted on with residents, businesses, members and community groups all inputting into the final proposals that were put before full council. The consultation was also scrutinised at a number of citywide overview and scrutiny meetings.
Following feedback from residents, staff and other stakeholders, the city council’s cabinet proposed changes in the final recommendations. This included for the council’s street care and green space services, with a series of revised proposals to address concerns raised about the condition of the city’s main parks, maintenance of highway verges and public open space, fly-tipping response times, weed spraying, sweeping and street cleansing. As a result, the saving has been reduced by £640,000 meaning an additional 33 full time equivalent roles have been introduced.
Other feedback from staff will see some minor amends to department structures. Once the recommendations have been put in place, it is expected that there will be a net reduction of 136 jobs and the deletion of 64 vacant posts. Additionally 138 new posts will be created in children’s services as the city council responds to the increased demand on this key statutory function.
Cllr Abi Brown, leader and cabinet member for corporate resources, strategy and partnerships said: “We have been clear that ‘investing in children’ is our number one priority as a council, and I am pleased that colleagues have supported these proposals today, underlining this commitment. We have had to make some difficult decisions to find this investment, and have adapted our proposals in response to the comments we have received, ensuring we can make this commitment to the young people of our city. There are currently 892 children in care who look to us for support and we have to do what is right for them both now and for the future.”
“We continue to focus on achieving improvement in our children’s services both through the recruitment of more social workers, but also in ensuring that every penny is well spent within the service. Today’s decision indicates that the city council recognises and understands the key messages within the Ofsted report, and our underlining commitment to addressing them. We are working hard with a number of partners to ensure that children remain at the centre of the city’s agenda both today and in future years.”
Full in-year budget council report
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