'Alarming job cuts put Hull's vulnerable children at risk'
SOME of Hull's most vulnerable children will be put at risk by "alarming" new cutbacks, a union has warned.
Proposals have been revealed to shed almost 50 jobs in the city council's children and young people's services.
But the plans have been branded "unsafe" amid concerns they will affect the children most in need of help.
Staff have been briefed by managers about the proposals to shed 36 frontline social and family support workers' jobs, along with ten from integrated youth services.
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In 2011, proposed cuts in the service led to a letter being sent by team managers to bosses claiming they could lead to the death of a child.
The latest proposals would result in a further 10 per cent reduction in numbers, following the 28 per cent cut two years ago.
Unison convenor Nikki Osborne, who is also a children and young people's worker, said: "Team managers stand by the letter they sent two years ago and now it is going to be even worse.
"This affects the social workers, family support workers and the community support team – all of whom are on the frontline
"This is damaging frontline protection and the work we do with children and the looked-after population.
"The council is looking to completely reshape the system. It is alarming. There were deep concerns when there was a 28 per cent cut in staff two years ago and these are on top of that.
"We feel there is a huge risk and it's not safe for the vulnerable children in the city.
"We are flying backwards and all the good work we did in the past few years in Hull is being dismantled.
"We are already starting to fail people and have 16 and 17-year-olds staying in bed and breakfasts."
A 90-day consultation process began on Thursday and Unison has organised a mass meeting at 5pm today to discuss the plans.
While more than 1,000 people are employed in the children and young people's service, the jobs will be lost in the frontline area, of which there are currently about 330 staff.
Ms Osborne said: "Staff are absolutely shell-shocked by this. They went through all this in 2011.
"Job descriptions will be rewritten and many will have to reapply and go through the interview process.
"There may be people who want to leave but these will be the more experienced workers who the council will want to retain.
"Also, with there being so little work out there, not many people will want to leave voluntarily.
"The jobs are likely to go in December, so people will be out of work just as Christmas comes along."
Hull City Council insists the changes will mean the service can be maintained with fewer staff.
Jon Plant, city safeguarding manager, said: "We have conducted a systems review of child protection services with the aim of working with a more child-centred approach, as recommended to every local authority in England by the Department for Education.
"Proposals regarding the new service mean we need fewer posts and we will do everything we can to avoid compulsory redundancies.
"The review gives us an opportunity to change the way we do things in the future, to create a service in which the conditions for outstanding practice are assured and the best outcomes for children and families are achieved."
The proposed changes follow a review of child protection in England commissioned by the Department for Education.
The Munro Review of Child Protection Final Report – A Child Centred System, concluded that child protection has become too focused on compliance and procedures and has lost its focus on the needs of individual children.
It said: "Local authorities should start an ongoing process to redesign the ways in which child and family social work is delivered, drawing on evidence of effectiveness of helping methods where appropriate and supporting practice that can implement evidence-based ways of working with children and families."