Hull job cuts 'could lead to child deaths and crime spike' (video)
CUTBACKS to services in Hull could lead to avoidable child deaths, a meeting of union members heard last night.
At the Unison meeting, staff whose positions are under threat raised fears of a spike in crime, drug use and homelessness if the cuts went ahead.
Unison convenor Nikki Osborne said: "We want to make sure we don't end up with a child death on our hands because, ultimately, that's what we're concerned with.
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"This is getting rid of all the structures and going back to the drawing board.
"Even if we can't change anything, we will shout as loud as we can and make Hull City Council as accountable as we can."
About 30 workers attended the meeting in Alfred Gelder Street.
They asked the Mail to protect their identities for fear of repercussions from senior management.
One said: "There are a lot of cases that have not been allocated to a social worker in Hull.
"Yet they want to reduce the money and provide not only the same service but a better service."
Another worker likely to lose her job was concerned the cuts would fail the most vulnerable.
She said: "We've already seen a massive increase in young people coming through our door homeless.
"We've got no accommodation left in this city for young people.
"You're going to see a massive increase in crime, drugs and young people on the streets."
Staff pointed to the gloomy job prospects for Hull's young people and said that for vulnerable children in care, fostering support was their only safety net.
One woman at the meeting had worked with foster families and children with complex problems for more than a decade.
She said: "It's worrying for the carers and young people we work with because we don't know what to tell them.
"If we can't help, we don't know what's going to happen to them."
"We're feeling demotivated and devalued – staff morale is very low."
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.
In 2011, proposed cuts led to a letter being sent by team managers to bosses claiming they could lead to the death of a child.
The latest plans would result in a further 10 per cent reduction in numbers, following the 28 per cent cut two years ago.
When plans for the most recent cuts were reported in the Mail this week, city safeguarding manager Jon Plant 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."