July 25 2014 Latest news:
by Jon Dean
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Rampant cuts to children’s services could leave Islington at risk of its own Baby P scandal, critics have warned.
The latest budget, passed by Islington Council last Thursday, included slashing £4million from the children’s services pot with six senior positions and one management post being cut.
The town hall says the reductions won’t put anyone in danger, but opponents say such swingeing cuts to a department that deals with vulnerable children is asking for trouble.
Independent councillor Greg Foxsmith said: “In child protection terms, yesterday’s Haringey may become Islington’s tomorrow.
“What we have here are significant cuts. Some of them are efficiency savings, and that’s fair enough – the pressure is on all departments – but some of them are direct.
“Say what you want, but reducing the number of people you employee in children’s services – carers, social workers, managers and case workers – increases the chance of mistakes, critical errors and people being at risk.
“It’s the wrong option in my opinion when other departments could have felt pain.
“I’m not saying something like Baby P will happen, but it increases the risk.
“That’s why I couldn’t put my name to this budget’’.
Cllr Joe Caluori, Islington Council’s executive member for children and families, said: “The vacancies we have held have all been risk- assessed and will be reviewed regularly.
“We are confident there isn’t any increase in risk. We have a statutory duty which we take very seriously. When we looked at the cuts available, we were never going to do anything to put young people in danger.”
Cllr Foxsmith suggested cutting the “bloated” £1million communications budget to free up some cash for children’s services.’’
Cllr Andy Hull, Islington Council’s executive member for finance, said the Labour group had halved the communications bill since coming into power.
He said: “We haven’t halved it by accident. If there was any fat in that department when we took over, there isn’t any now.
“Communication can be a bridge between the council and its residents and it’s a bridge we are not prepared to burn.”