Discussions are getting underway to look at how two thirds of Children’s Centre staff in Liverpool can be retained – despite the service losing two thirds of its funding.
The council has had £173 million of Central Government funding taken away from it since 2010 and needs to save another £156 million over the next three years, totalling 58 percent of its overall budget and resulting in the loss of over 2,000 jobs so far.
Mayor Joe Anderson committed three years ago not to look again at Children’s Centre services until now, to give time for discussions about new collaborations and funding and to minimise the reduction in services. Unlike other areas, the city council has so far retained all of its Children’s Centre buildings.
Talks are now to begin around a proposal to retain 94 of the 157 full time staff posts, with some services still delivered from a majority of the current sites – and seven registered Children’s Centres located in the areas of greatest need. Staff will continue to visit children and families in their homes when extra help is needed.
The consultation will include all staff and parents and carers who use the service, explaining the proposals and considering how Children’s Centres can be run differently – with a focus on the services they use, the staff who deliver them and how they can be accessed.
The council has managed to double the budget it has available by securing £1.4 million of additional funding from partner agencies including Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) every year for the next three years.
Discussions are continuing with partners and other organisations in a bid to lever in additional funding to further increase the number of centres and staff that could be retained.
READ THE CONSULTATION LEAFLET:
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “Sure Start has been a great success since it began and reflects the need to support parents and children in their early years to give them the best start in life.
“As a former children’s social worker, it is clearly inconceivable that I would choose to make these cuts, and in an ideal world we wouldn’t consider closing any of them – but the Government has given us no choice by withdrawing the money to pay for them.
“We started this process at a point where we only had funding for four centres, but have managed to get it up to seven by securing additional cash from our partners. We will continue to hold discussions during the consultation and beyond in an effort to grow the service.
“We have deliberately chosen to focus the budget that we do have on funding staff posts rather than buildings, so that we can reach as many people as possible, including through an outreach service.
“Any change to services that people love and cherish is really difficult, but we have to do things differently in every single area right across the council due to the sheer scale of the cuts.
“The only way we can increase the number of centres and staff to be able to support our very youngest citizens at a very crucial point in their lives, is to secure additional funding from partners who themselves heavily depend on these services.”
“We are in discussions and we will keep working away right up until the last minute to see if we can secure more funding.”
The methodology for making decisions over centres has looked at levels of deprivation, child poverty, geography and the number of children under five, with resources allocated on a graduated basis depending on need.
The proposal is for the retained Registered Children’s Centres to be located across the city, serving the immediate area and surrounding wards:
Central and city
• Everton Children’s Centre – serving Everton, Kirkdale and Anfield
• Granby Children’s Centre – serving Princes Park, Riverside and Central
• Picton Children’s Centre – serving Picton, Kensington and Fairfield, Tuebrook and Stoneycroft
• Clubmoor Children’s Centre – serving Clubmoor, Norris Green, West Derby, Knotty Ash and Old Swan
• County Children’s Centre – serving County, Warbreck, Fazakerley, Croxteth and Yew Tree
• Belle Vale Children’s Centre – serving Belle Vale, Woolton, Church, Wavertree, Greenbank and Childwall
• Speke Children’s Centre – serving Speke-Garston, Allerton and Hunts Cross, Mossley Hill and St Michael’s
Subject to negotiations, it is hoped some services will still be delivered from as many of the other registered centres and sites as possible. They are: Anfield; Dingle Lane; Fazakerley and Croxteth; Fountains and Vauxhall; Garston, Church and Mossley Hill; Kensington; Stoneycroft; Tuebrook and West Derby; Wavertree and Yew Tree.
The consultation is getting underway this week, and will see one event held on each site, as well as a number of meetings for staff.
Councillor Jane Corbett, Cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Children’s Centres are very dear to my heart as I helped set up the first one in the city and I know the positive difference they make to children’s lives in the long term.
“But we are between a rock and a hard place, and in these incredibly difficult times we have to protect the frontline where children are right on the edge of care and in danger.
“Money is so tight now that we are having to make deep cuts to our Children’s Centres which were previously unimaginable.
“I would like to pay tribute to all of our staff and volunteers who are doing a fantastic job supporting our youngest citizens and their parent and carers.
“We are committed to listening to everyone and doing what we can with the limited funding we have left to continue to reach as many of our families as possible.”
To take part in the consultation, go online to www.liverpool.gov.uk/consultation, email ChildrensCentreConsultation@liverpool.gov.uk or write to Children’s Centre Consultation, c/o Children’s Centre Team, Municipal Buildings, Dale Street, Liverpool L2 2DH by 24 March.
The dates and times of the consultation meetings are as follows:
23rd Feb – Belle Vale, 10am-11.30am
23rd Feb – Church and Mossley Hill, 1pm-2.30pm
24th Feb – Clubmoor and Ellergreen 9.30am-11am
24th Feb – Anfield, 1.30pm-3pm
24th Feb – Childwall and Woolton, 6pm-7.30pm
26th Feb – Dingle Lane, 10am-11.30am
26th Feb – Everton, 1pm-2.30pm
26th Feb – Fazakerley, 3.30pm-5pm
3rd March – County ,10am-11.30am
3rd March – Fountains, 3pm-4.30pm
4th March – Croxteth, 10am-11.30am
4th March – Garston, 5.30pm-7.30pm
5th March – Hunts Cross, 6pm-7.30pm
6th March – Kensington, 1.30pm-3pm
6th March – Picton, 10am-11.30pm
10th March – Granby, 9.30am-11am
12th March – Stoneycroft, 1pm-2.30pm
12th March – Tuebrook, 9.30am-11am
13th March – Speke, 1pm-2.30pm
16th March – Vauxhall, 3pm-4.30pm
16th March – Wavertree, 9.30am-11am
18th March – Walton, 6pm-7.30pm
19th March – Yew Tree and Knotty Ash, 9.30am-11am
19th March – West Derby, 6pm-7.30pm
Following the consultation, a report with a final proposal will be considered by the Cabinet no later than June 2015.