Connexions cuts – the national list

2 09 2010

A Thousand Cuts has published a comprehensive database of cuts announced so far to the Connexions youth service.

Connexions provides universal information, advice and guidance to young people, and works with young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) to help them back into education or work.

The service is funded by local authorities with an area based grant (ABG) from central government, but after the coalition government cut this grant by 24 percent in June, applied to this financial year (‘in-year’), councils across England have announced cutbacks to local Connexions services.

A Thousand Cuts and Unison have now collated details of Connexions cuts from councils across England – the full database can be seen here. The database covers all councils that administer Connexions services, with information sourced from council announcements, local press reports, Children and Young People Now, and local Unison branches.

While some councils have yet to announce the cuts they will make, the database shows that many Connexions services are facing severe cuts to funding and jobs. Many local authorities are planning to scale back the universal Connexions service into a targeted service – although Lewisham is reducing support for NEETs with mental health issues, while East Sussex is cutting back projects for school students with learning difficulties and disabilities.

The Connexions services which are under threat of outright closure are:

  • Windsor & Maidenhead – council is terminating the contract with Connexions at the end of March 2011; the council has emphasised this is due to government funding cuts, not the service’s performance
  • Brighton & Hove – Connexions service at risk of closure, with schools having to provide advice to teenagers on issues such as sexual health, careers, housing and healthy living
  • Birmingham – closure of the Connexions service is one of three options presented to council bosses, which would leave the council unable to fulfil its statutory obligations

Among the local authorities scaling back universal services in favour of targeted programmes are:

  • Cambridgeshire – no more open access youth clubs, and 1:1 careers guidance only for Year 11 and upwards (and even then only for youngsters within the targeted group)
  • Havering – service will become more targeted and deliver fewer universal services over the next five years
  • Portsmouth – significantly reduced services delivered to school-age young people
  • West Sussex – new integrated youth service will be targeted at specific groups, including young offenders, looked-after children, teenage parents and NEETs, with reduced funding for youth clubs and charities

While local authorities implementing large-scale job cuts to the Connexions services include:

  • Norfolk – 50 per cent cut in funding, with 65 whole-time equivalent (WTE) jobs going; centres are being closed, and guidance will be delivered over the phone and electronically
  • Sunderland – 41 WTE jobs at risk
  • Halton and St Helens – at least 120 posts could go due to a nearly 40% cut
  • Birmingham – Connexions expected to be hardest hit out of 430 job losses council-wide
  • Staffordshire – 55 jobs at risk, including half the entire workforce at Leek
  • Sheffield – 95 jobs at risk of redundancy

Regular readers of A Thousand Cuts will know that the in-year nature of the government’s cuts has magnified their detrimental effect, forcing councils to rush to cut any spending that is not legally committed, often regardless of how important the spending actually is.

In the case of Connexions, the fact that a lot of the funding for 2010/11 had already been legally committed or spent when the ABG cuts were announced has meant that the impact of 24 percent cut is being magnified for the second half of the financial year – because councils could not cut first-half funding which had already been committed, eye-watering cuts are being made for the second half. Among such councils are:

  • Northamptonshire – 40% cut in funding for the second half of 2010/11, with all 175 staff placed at risk of redundancy; Unison fears 50 jobs could eventually go
  • Sutton – 50-60% cut over the second half of 2010/11
  • Cheshire & Warrington – 33% cut, with youth centre hubs at Northwich, Ellesmere Port, Knutsford and Congleton set to close
  • Wigan – 40% cut, with more than £20m put aside to pay off staff

However, there are councils that value Connexions as an important service, and are trying to protect its funding by making savings elsewhere. Among those local authorities that have managed to avoid major (or in some cases, any) cuts to Connexions are:

  • Stockton-on-Tees – no in-year cuts, as council is using uncommitted budgets, reserves and value for money savings to protect Connexions
  • Black Country (Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton) – cuts seem to have been achieved with redeployment
  • Redcar & Cleveland – no significant cuts to customer-facing Connexions services, and no job losses
  • Middlesbrough – no in-year cuts

Many local authorities have yet to finalise the impact of the government’s in-year cuts – many councils expect to reach decisions this month, so the national picture is likely to get worse. Moreover, the government’s October spending review may lead to even more severe cuts to local government funding – so further cuts to Connexions in future years may be on the horizon.

Over the coming weeks, A Thousand Cuts will be looking at the track record of Connexions, the issues around replacing universal services with a targeted approach – and will be looking at some of the local campaigns taking place to protect this service.

PS – If any information on the database is incorrect, or if there’s anything I’ve missed out, please do let me know in the comments below. The information published reflects the best available information at the time of publication

PPS – while this database has been compiled by A Thousand Cuts and Unison, no payment from Unison was ever requested, offered or received, and the entering of information and data into the database was completed entirely by A Thousand Cuts at our discretion

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15 responses

8 09 2010
Daniel Rhodes-Mumby

Considering North-East Lincolnshire authority, I did some work researching the budget and planned ‘efficiencies’ (as the council described them) for the youth council there.

There are some cuts – on first glance a fair few, although a bit of probing’s lessened the alarm very slightly – which look to be incredibly concerning for young people, but it seems like the Connexions one – unusually – isn’t one of them.

I still have the work, some of which is reasonably extensive, on cuts in NELincs which could be expected to hit young people at all. I don’t know if it could ever be useful, but if so then I’ll be happy to provide it.

On a more tangential point, I’m hoping to stand as a Labour candidate in Salford local authority next year, at the same time that I’ll be studying for my politics degree at Salford University. Though one council member could do little to stop the cuts, if elected it’s one of my priorities to at least minimise the impact on services – especially to youth services, which is an area I’m passionate about.

8 09 2010
athousandcuts

Hi Daniel

The Connexions cuts in NELincs are fairly limited by national standards – around 5 per cent – so there may well be more severe cuts elsewhere in children’s services.

I’d be very interested to see your research – please email me at cjayanetti at gmail dot com. Apart from the local picture in NELincs, it might also give a clue as to what may be getting cut elsewhere – some of the children’s services budget lines aren’t always especially enlightening.

Re Salford. I think the question of how Labour councillors should respond to the cuts is a key one, and something I’ll be looking at in detail further down the line. Lewisham is not the answer – http://bit.ly/9ctJhk – but I doubt many Labour councillors will be up for Militant Liverpool-style deficit budgets. Which leaves you with a dilemma. Some have suggested that councils should raid their reserves to make up the shortfalls created by the cuts – personally I’m rather wary of spending reserves, unless an individual council’s reserves are very large. I’d be interested in your thoughts on what might work? Simply passing on 25% cuts isn’t really going to help matters.

12 09 2010
Daniel Rhodes-Mumby

Hello Chaminda,

I’ll get the research to you fairly soon; the resources I used are all over the place in e-mails, FOI requests etc. so it’s difficult to collate them all.

I agree completely that Lewisham isn’t the answer, and I find it difficult to accept that the Butcher’s in my party when we have viewpoints so diametrically opposed to one another.

If I remember correctly, those Militant-style budgets are illegal – so even if the will was there most Labour councils would shy away from them – but on the other hand when budget cuts can have such an impact on people’s lives, anyone with even a little compassion for others must be tempted.

Short of spending reserves, I must admit that I’m largely at a loss. If elected then I’ll fight tooth and nail to make sure that youth services don’t suffer on the ground, something which I think I can do as I’ve both used and helped develop them in the past – but just as one does not simply walk into Mordor, so too can one not simply ignore central decree.

It’s a tough one. More consultation with users might help matters, so we can identify less essential services and cut those as a result – but simply because they’re less essential it doesn’t follow that they’re less useful, or less important to those who do use them.

8 09 2010
Susan Gwyer

You may wish to update your database. CSWP Ltd – Coventry & Warwickshire Connexions announced to staff last Thursday that 25% of them would be made redundant by the end of September. Post the October Local Authority spending review it is expected that more cuts will be imposed. All Connexions offices / one-stop shops are to close to the public. Three are to be closed totally by the end of November, including Coventry City, Rugby and Bedworth. Connexions will only be offering Yr 11 – 1:1 interviews in schools. A Unison meeting this afternoon attracted a very good turnout with members clearly in favour of a national visble campaign in defence of public services. All public service workers must Unite & Fight if we are to overturn Government Policy on the decimation of our public services. Why should the most vulnerable people in society be made to pay for the bankers mistakes and now for their bonuses.

8 09 2010
athousandcuts

Hi Susan

Many thanks for that, and I very much agree with all your points. I have updated the database accordingly. Am I right in thinking 80 staff members are being made redundant in the first wave?

12 09 2010
Susan Gwyer

Absolutely spot on – 80 out of 320 – 25% – this is in addition to the ‘natural wasteage’ we have susatined in the last 12-18mths. We have not been recruiting as people have left for some time.

12 09 2010
Susan Gwyer

PS: I think we need to get behind Tony Benn’s call for a national coalition against the cuts – we need to rock the new Government and threaten the foundations of this shaky coalition if we have any chance of a rever.sal of the plans to slash and burn public services

12 09 2010
athousandcuts

Yes, I agree. Tony Benn’s Coalition of Resistance doesn’t yet have a fully fledged strategy, but so far there have been a lot of plus points – http://bit.ly/d3rhJg – and they’re right in trying to make it an umbrella for all the local anti-cuts campaigns. The government’s already looking unsteady, and that’s without any real organised opposition.

16 09 2010
catherine jackson

Hi. Im the steward for Connexions on the island. I read the bit about the Isle of Wight Council’s stance and found some of the information in it – about the Council being committed to providing both a Community and an Education Connexions service – re-assuring. Where did you get this information from?

16 09 2010
athousandcuts

Hi Catherine

The information came from an emailed press statement IoW council sent me after I enquired about the future of its Connexions service for this database. I’ll forward you the email now.

16 09 2010
catherine jackson

Thats brillant, thanks very much! Best Wishes Catherine

30 11 2010
gerry macguire

I am absolutely delighted that the Government has seen the folly of Connexions and its budget savings mean the demise of this most horrid service.

I have worked as head of year in two secondary schools, one in suffolk and the other in essex. Prior to this I worked as a history teacher in hertfordshire. I can confirm the usefulness of the connexions workers was minimal and their level of expertise in helping young people was derisory.

I don’t really care people will lose their jobs at any connexions centre that shuts as I see it no more than what they deserve for their years of pretending to be helping young people.

my dislike of connexions in recent years worsened after i set myself up as an independant education specialist committed to helping those in the state system who had not been statemented but genuinely should have.

more than 95% of my caseload had never been seen by those caring people at connexions. truely a sad statistic.

so, well dome mr cameron and IDS. can we severely trim back those nice people in the YOT next please??

gerry macquire

17 12 2010
catherine jackson

Hi. Could you possibly forward me a copy of the emailed press statement. The council seem to be trying to go back on this. Everyone in Education Connexions has been issued with an ‘immediate at risk’ notice. Thank you Best Wishes Catherine

25 01 2011
Susan Gwyer

An update for you on the situation in Warwickshire. Staff at CSWP Ltd; Coventry & Warwickshire Connexions, were this afternoon informed in a mass meeting that Warwickshire County Council plans to cease funding for an Information, Advice & Guidance Service alltogether. Although it has been pointed out to them that there is a statutory duty for IAG in schools it seems they couldn’t care less hence we were all issued with our stage one redundancy notices this afternoon.
Warwickshire – a stunningly right-wing true blue authority – also have proposals on the table to cease the whole of the youth service and close all old people’s homes.
SLASH & BURN!
We need to mobilise for the biggest turn out possible for the anti-cuts march in London on 26th March and rock this coalition to its foundations!
Unless all public service workers unite and fight services to the most vulnerable people in society will be decimated and meanwhile the bankers get their bonuses and all is rosy in the city – surely this can’t be right?

1 02 2011
Kieran Gordon

Your information: ‘While local authorities implementing large-scale job cuts to the Connexions services include:Halton and St Helens – at least 120 posts could go due to a nearly 40% cut’

is wrong

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