Union bosses have called for a campaign against planned cuts by East Sussex County Council to children’s services – including services which help youngsters with severe disabilities and special educational needs.
GMB Southern said the county council needs to protect the jobs of ‘invaluable hard-working staff’ which they believe are under threat if a package of cuts goes ahead.
The council needs to save £70m-£90m from its budget by March 2019 and is looking at slashing areas including community care, drop-in activity at children’s centres, services for carers and children with special educational needs.
Karen Cooke, GMB organiser, said, “If these cuts are implemented it could result in parents and carers being unable to cope and more children going into full time care.
“This is not only devastating for these children and their families but will cost the public thousands of pounds.
“This will clearly have a major detrimental effect on them. They have already faced a cut to respite care as the two available facilities which were used are now at capacity with full time residents.
“Clearly staff will also be affected as redundancies are anticipated at the end of the current 40 day consultation. GMB are calling for a halt to these proposals with immediate effect.
“What beggars belief is the parents and children that will be directly affected are not even being consulted with.
“The proposals must be stopped, ESCC need to act now to save the service and ensure invaluable hardworking staff are retained.”
An East Sussex County Council spokesman said, “As part of our budget planning process, we are exploring a range of options to identify the £24 million of savings we expect to have to make in 2017/18 – an estimated £4.2 million of which will need to be found from the Children’s Services budget.
“The need for savings is as a result of cuts in Government funding and increased needs of residents.
“We believe we will have to work closer with partners and find new ways of providing services, but a continued impact on frontline services is unavoidable.
“We are examining all areas of the council’s work to draw up a draft budget.
“The final decision on savings will be made by Full Council on February 7, 2017.”