Hard-up county votes in early help cuts after social work impact warnings

A cash-strapped county voted last week to proceed with early-help staffing cuts after they were called in by a scrutiny panel. Somerset council, which in July warned it could face effective bankruptcy if its financial position did not improve by October, decided in September to reduce staffing in its level 2 and 3 ‘GetSet’ family support teams by 75% and 40% respectively. At the time of the warning its projected children’s services overspend, due to placement and agency staffing costs, was £15 million; the most recent published update said this was on an “upward trend”. The Conservative-run authority has faced intense scrutiny as speculation mounts over which council will be next to follow Northamptonshire in issuing a ‘section 114’ notice, signalling an inability to balance its budget. But its dilemmas in the face of deep funding cuts and spiralling children’s services spending have been mirrored at other locations around England, with Nottinghamshire the latest county to publish concerns last week. Read more.

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