The procession of cuts to children’s services around the country goes on, as the impact of the coalition government’s in-year budget cuts continues to be felt.
Nottinghamshire County Council announced its spending reductions last week, including the following cuts to youth services:
- a massive 85 percent cut to funding for extended schools schemes, which include breakfast clubs and booster literacy and numeracy classes in the early morning and after school. The council’s own assessment says that “the impact is most likely to be on the most disadvantaged children”
- a 30 percent reduction in the school intervention grant, which promotes partnership work between schools to raise standards. The council describes the grant as “a key budget for raising achievement in secondary schools”
- cutting a quarter of the funding for courses for school staff on children with special educational needs
- funding for work with the voluntary sector to divert young people away from anti-social behaviour and crime will fall by 60 percent
- cuts to funding to reduce teenage pregnancies and substance misuse by children and young people. With regards to the latter, the council admits that the funding cuts “will have a potentially negative impact on outcomes for children and young people and may result in the need for further action to address escalating substance misuse in the future”
Public transport and road improvement schemes in North Nottinghamshire and Greater Nottingham are also in line for significant cutbacks.
The council also decided to push ahead with plans to sell 12 care homes to the private sector in the face of protests, while officials are currently considering wholesale privatisation of a variety of services, including highways maintenance.
But the council has found one thing it is ready to spend money on – an expanded free travel scheme for secondary school students to get to schools up to 25 miles away. When the scheme is fully up and running, it will cost £1.725m a year.
The council press office tells me this is to fulfil a Conservative manifesto commitment to enhance ‘parent choice’. Translated, that means paying for upper middle class parents to get their kids out of the local comprehensive and into the nice upper middle class academy down the motorway.
Oh well, the electorate voted for it – though it might not have voted for all the cuts needed to pay for it…