Children's services in Hampshire could be slashed by more than £20m by county council

CUTS of more than £20m are being proposed to children's services across Hampshire.

Monday, 20th September 2021, 4:40 pm
A school classroom. Picture: Tony Johnson

Hampshire County Council is slashing its budget across the board in a bid to save £80m by April 2023.

As part of this programme, it is proposed that £21.3m is taken from the budget for children's services, which will see £7.7m cut from children's social care, £336,000 from education and community services and £2.5m cut from the home-to-school transport pot, with plans to review how the service is provided and develop direct relationships between schools and operators.

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But the proposals have been criticised due to the impact they will have on young people across the county.

Ashton Kerr, 11 from Havant, missed his first few days at Hollywater School in Bordon after transport was not arranged by the county council.

His mother, 31-year-old Gemma Halford, fears that many more children will face similar problems.

She said: 'Ashton has autism and so needs to have a routine - as do other children in his shoes - but the council doesn't seem to care about that.

'Missing the first few days at his new school made it even harder for him when he did finally go in.

'This plan to have single contractors for multiple schools won't work, it's only about saving money. That's all they're worried about, not the childen.

'I really hope they reconsider these cuts.'

In the report, a further £178,000 will be slashed from the Youth Offending Team budget, with staffing levels being reduced.

The proposals won't be ratified until both the cabinet and full council approve the plans.

Executive lead member for children's services, Cllr Roz Chadd, said: 'Supporting the best possible outcomes for children, young people and families in the greatest need remains at the centre of everything we do.

'It is our responsibility to ensure we continue to do this in safe, appropriate and efficient ways while also managing increased demand for our services, in the face of extremely difficult financial circumstances, both of which have been further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

'Hampshire is the joint highest performing children’s services authority under Ofsted’s inspection regime for local authority children’s services, and we remain committed to providing the highest quality, statutory social care services and support for Hampshire’s schools.'

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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