Children and youth staff facing redundancy from Kent County Council

KCC County Hall

By Local Democracy Reporter Simon Finlay

Hundreds of jobs at cash-strapped Kent County Council are at risk of redundancy as the authority seeks urgent savings, a new document reveals.

According to papers seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), 208 posts are to be axed.

The losses will affect staffers on the Open Access teams in the Children, Young People and Education directorate.

Many youth services are being scaled back to accommodate the new government ‘family hubs’ model.

KCC, like most authorities in the country, is under huge pressure to save tens of millions of pounds in the face of soaring costs and falling government funding.

A 20-page redundancy consultation document, titled Open Access Organisational Redesign, states: “The total number of posts it is proposed to make redundant is 183.

“In addition to this, there is a net reduction of 25.65 FTE (full-time equivalent) posts required for the KR4 children’s centre cohort.”

Quarterdeck

The KR4 posts are understood to include staff at Margate’s Quarterdeck youth centre. One young person’s worker said they have been told the redundancies will come into affect on April 1.

They added: “One person has been in their job for more than 20 years and been told they will not have a job but we have been told we are not allowed to talk to anyone about it. We can’t even tell the kids what is happening or whether we will be around much longer.”

A 45 day consultation period ends on February 22.

Family Hub scheme

The new family hub scheme was championed by Dame Andrea Leadson MP and KCC was one of 75 councils to be identified as in need and invited to apply for grant funding.

But as a result, groups commissioned by KCC to run youth and community services may have to find other ways of funding their activities.

Critics say there will be a loss of valuable community assets with young people being driven into drug gangs or criminality or suffering mental health issues.

The KCC document said family hubs are a “positive example of integration, innovation and transformation.”

‘Loss of important service’

The LDRS was contacted by someone claiming to be a staff member under threat of redundancy.

The KCC worker warned: “Young people need somewhere to go, to be safe on their terms. They need consistent, professionally trained help and services…not untrained, inexperienced volunteers.

“The loss of this important service is underpinned by an expectation from KCC that these children and the associated challenges they experience will be picked up by both community voluntary services and pre-existing government organisations such as the police and social services.

“As you are well aware, these services are stretched to breaking point and as a result of these proposed changes, the young people we see and support will fall through the gaps and become a more costly and significant burden on our communities and tax-payers in the long term.”

Saving £7m

KCC refused to comment on specific numbers of redundancies but said a move to the family hub model will save £7m.

A council statement said: “As part of transforming services to ensure we keep supporting Kent’s families in the best way, at the right time, we are currently consulting with Open Access teams in our Children, Young People and Education Directorate on staffing changes.

“Re-shaping how, and where, we work in the face of rising costs and stretched budgets will help KCC save over £7million.

“Being part of government’s Family Hub programme and creating a network of one-stop-shops of joined-up services to support our youngest residents and their families is also giving us the chance to do things differently.

“This includes working more closely with health, and other partners, to tackle inequalities and placing services in communities where, and how, they are needed most.

“But change is never easy. We know this is a difficult time for those involved and we are providing ongoing support to all our staff.

“The consultation runs for 45 days, closing on February 22, after which all feedback will be fully considered and a final proposal drawn up before any decisions are taken.”

Skeleton staff

Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of the Local Government Information Unit, said: “I am bracing myself for news of redundancies across the country’s councils who are struggling to meet the cost of providing their services. The truth is that most councils are running on a skeleton staff these days.

“There is no longer any such thing as the lowest hanging fruit to be plucked at councils anymore.

“The government seems to think that councils are stuffed full of over-paid, under-worked staff – but, these days, where you see redundancies, they tend to have a big impact on services.”

10 Comments

  1. Utterly disgraceful, shame on the government, cutting taxes to win votes and cannot supply services. Hang your heads MPs, your a disgrace.

  2. Money wasting KCC are a disgrace to us. A useless station in Thanet and now decide they are going to scrap many jobs. Many councils are going to go bust this year and we all know which government is to blame. or are we thick.

  3. We’ve all seen it unfolding but dare not say it.

    1. Family has child, conceived on the back of an unplanned carefree attitude.

    2. Poor little Dwayne is now three; desperate for attention, love and obligate nurturing. This isn’t happening, since unemployed Daddy is glued to his £500 Xbox he so patiently waited for, and Mummy – also addicted to Facebook, and what her friends do and think. All too important to divert attention from these screens you see!

    3. Oh no! Dwayne is misbehaving. What could this be? ADHD must be the cause. Gotta get in touch with the council, it’s their problem now.

    4. Council is giving us the run around, we demand that money all our friends say they’re getting too. They’re saying they can’t help as the money’s run out. We are crying for little Dwayne.

    Rinse.

    Repeat.

    • I don’t think the above comment is either fair or accurate. As for the mention of ADHD, I don’t think the writer knows much, if anything, about it.

  4. I can’t wait for a rise in antisocial behavior once all the at risk kids get to roam free without any guidance. Maximum lolz.

  5. So sad. As always it’s those who need it most who lose out first. The loss of services for teenagers at Quarterdeck will leave our teens with even fewer places to go where they can just hang out safely. The long term effect of cutting preventative services is that the fire-fighting services, police, social workers, and even our A&E’s, end up picking up the slack. Because ‘family hubs’ don’t cut it, when what teenagers need are safe spaces that enable them to cross the bridge from childhood into adulthood. But you can’t just blame KCC for gvt policy to move to ‘family hubs’ as part of their strategy to save money to fund yet more tax cuts. Something is seriously wrong at the root and branch level of our central gvt. Not that I know anyone who has benefited from these so called tax cuts. The Tories are supposed to be the party of business and finance, but they have made one serious mess of it which is why we are in the state we are in.

  6. This government under all its prime ministers elected and not, have brought this country to its knees, over its tenure.

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