The Tory-run authority, dubbed "easy council" for its philosophy of supplying basic services and charging individuals for additional requirements, is facing cuts to its £12m of children service grants of between 25 and 50 per cent. The figures were revealed by head of children’s services Robert McCulloch-Graham, who said that the department was also facing cuts of 20 per cent to its core budget over the next three years.What a truly frightening prospect is in store; these cuts, a little bit here, a little bit there, are going to have real casualties, people, young people, who slip through the cracks and aren't helped when they need to be.
Speaking to the council’s budgetary scrutiny committee, McCulloch-Graham likened the department’s financial position to "Armageddon", with a doubling of referrals to the department in three years combining with lengthy court cases to put children’s services under great strain.
A friend of mine reports that his mother, a social worker working with young children and taking them into care, sometimes at short notice, has had her budget for buying necessities for them - blankets, clothes - cut by 75%. (This is not in Barnet, for the record.) Why? Why are cuts like this even being contemplated?
Doing the Burnt Oak stall on Saturday I met a lady who works as an escort for disabled young people in Barnet; she helps them on their journeys to school and so on, in council or hired vehicles. She and her fellow workers face losing their job with the council and being re-employed by private companies doing the work on contract. You can bet your bottom dollar the escorts will be taken on on worse pay and conditions, and with less training being provided in future; that will mean a faster turnover of staff, less continuity for the children, worse care.
Little by little, here and there, drip, drip, drip, crap is being poured onto our heads by that nice Mr Cameron. (Yes, I know his father has just died.) These cuts are a political choice by the government; they could do other things to restore the national finances, or even, since the UK is the sixth richest country in the world and not likely to go bust any time soon, just leave things alone.