councillor launches petition against financial cuts
Burnham-On-Sea councillor has launched an online petition in protest
at proposed financial cuts to family support services run by Somerset
70 people have already signed the petition
here, launched by Burnham and Highbridge district councillor
Helen Groves, to air their concerns at the "deeply worrying"
County Council's proposed cutbacks include £2.5m from its
Care and Support budget; reducing teacher and family support posts
to save £1.4m; reducing highway lighting hours to save £100,000;
cutting the budget for sex education in Somerset's schools by
£44,000; and bringing in charges to special needs students
for college transport to save £43,000.
Groves told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "The announced cuts by Somerset
County Council are deeply worrying. The proposals are clearly
attacking those who are most vulnerable and in desperate need.
The devastating cuts to the provision of services such as family
support and educational psychology are ill-considered and short-sighted."
with physical, learning and behavioural difficulties have the
best long-term outcomes through early diagnosis and intervention.
Unassisted, it is recognised that educational and social outcomes
are generally poor and many children go on to develop far more
complex behavioural issues which ultimately may require multi
agency support - at far greater cost."
cannot begin to express the impact this will have upon families
who rely upon these services. Children who are identified as having
difficulties at pre-school ages have the best educational outcomes
where early support is given. Services such as educational psychology,
family support and home visiting for families of children who
are suffering the most severe educational needs and disabilities
are a lifeline for the families affected."
reduction of service will mean that this already over strained
service will struggle to meet demand, that families who are going
through the lengthy and often traumatic experience of diagnosis
will be left without support and isolated."
to these services will ensure that support is not available to
all who need it. This is a service already operating under severe
strain, with families waiting already at times more than a year
to access educational psychology, many months to engage with family
support and unable to access basic support without the provision
Somerset County Council says it is operating in a "tough
environment" after a reduced financial settlement from the
government that will see it operating with £20million less
than last year.
"It is extremely difficult and challenging when our income
goes down, but the number of people needing our help is going
up," said Council Leader John Osman this week. "Just
one example, a few years ago over 350 children were in care in
Somerset. Now that figure is more than 525, and rising. Each child
can cost the authority £3,000-£5,000 a week to look
after. Of course we want to look after them to the best of our
abilities, but its a very significant expense."
The County Council's draft budget proposals - which will include
a freeze in council tax for a fourth year running, spending an
extra £4.8 million on vulnerable children and adults, and
spending millions extra on repairing roads after recent severe
weather - will be discussed later this month.
County Council says its proposals will see services reorganised
and in some areas modernised to "bring significant efficiencies
and savings". The proposals include modernising care services,
committing to keep all 41 Childrens Centres open and reorganising
and restructuring the service, and developing more efficient working
practices with schools and early years providers.
are very tough times for all councils across the country, it is
no different in Somerset," added Cllr Osman. "We have
protected some areas for the coming year, like youth services,
libraries, and school crossing patrol officers. We will continue
with our priorities, to care for people who need it, and to deliver
all our services with the best possible value for money."