Manchester

Manchester children's services proposals discussed

Detailed proposals outlining how children's services can be delivered in Manchester following government cuts have been discussed by the council.

It has to save £170m over two years and is shedding 2,000 jobs - about 17% of its total workforce.

The plans include phasing out day care services, which at present meet 11% of the city's needs for under-5s.

The union Unison said it was concerned about the proposed changes and would be "working to protect staff".

Another proposed change is the introduction of an outreach worker for all parents of newborn babies.

'No longer afford'

A council spokesman said: "This new outreach approach builds on the success of a pilot scheme carried out in Ardwick to ensure vulnerable families are identified and supported as soon as possible - before their needs escalate.

"This will ensure that services are delivered to the right families at the right time."

Councillor Afzal Khan, executive member for children's services, said: "We believe our early years proposals will enable us to use our reduced resources to the best effect, supporting those most in need to give them the best start in life.

"However developing these proposals has involved taking some challenging decisions in the context of the financial settlement from central government."

If approved by the council's executive, the proposals will form the basis of a consultation running from 3 October to January 2012.

A spokesman for Unison said: 'Unison is concerned about the proposal to no longer directly provide day care for Manchester children.

"However we also recognise that the council's budget has been slashed. We will be working to protect staff within the process to take place over the next few years in what for many will be a difficult period.

"The government cuts in Manchester's funding were always going to mean real pain in terms of service closures, reduction in services and increased charges."

The proposed changes are expected to take place in phases up to March 2015.

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