Leicester

Leicester City Council unveils more service cuts

Union leaders fear vulnerable children in Leicester could be put at risk as the city council revealed more planned cuts to its services.

Leicester City Council has identified £10m worth of proposed cuts in children's services which, if approved, would see about 100 posts axed.

Unions said staff working with children and parents would be overstretched.

The authority said the quality of provision would not decline and would be targeted at "those most in need".

The Labour-run city council said managers in youth work, early learning, teenage pregnancy and teen parent services and an inclusion officer, who advises on school exclusions, would be affected to save £10m out of £40m over the next three years.

'Pressure intolerable'

Elected mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said they had been left facing tough choices after central government funding was cut.

"It isn't that we want to save this money, it's that we have to save this money.

"Undoubtedly these cuts are going to hurt. What we've tried to do is look at management costs, to look at some of the specialist services and find other ways of delivering them.

"There is still some way to go with this budget - this is an incredibly difficult and painful process."

However, Leicester branch secretary of Unison Gary Garner said: "Whilst the children's centres and community centres are remaining open, the pressure being put on our members is going to be intolerable in terms of extra workload.

"They're already working to capacity and will be working above capacity and that leads to mistakes. Mistakes could mean possibly children at risk."

Last month the city council carried out a public consultation on where funding cuts of £40m over the next three years could be found, on top of £30m of savings being made this year.

A week ago it unveiled changes to transport and climate change, housing, heritage, leisure and sport, neighbourhood and children's services.

This included cutting £200,000 from bus subsidies, £130,000 from park-and-ride schemes, savings on festive lights and hours cut in the 12 biggest libraries.

However, the budget for highways maintenance was increased by £1.1m.

The authority said at least 225 jobs would be cut but admitted the figure could rise. Union leaders said they expected the number of job cuts to be higher.

At least 300 redundancies have been made this year with a similar number expected in the next 12 months.

Next year, Leicester City Council is planning to announce how the remaining £26m will be saved before 2015.

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