Liverpool's children's centre cuts branded 'disproportionate'

By Joe Lepper

| 20 April 2012

Proposed cuts to children's centre services in Liverpool have been branded "disproportionate", with concerns that staff going on holiday or sick leave could leave some centres unable to open.

Liverpool: conflict between staff at proposed hub and satellite centres has emerged. Image: Liverpool CC

Early findings from the consultation on Liverpool City Council’s proposals reveal concerns from children’s centre staff over the plans to cut 20 posts and streamline services at the 26 centres.

The consultation sets out proposals to develop 10 hub centres that retain specialist services and manage a cluster of satellite centres.

The move would save the council £2m, but in a report presented to members of the council’s education and children’s services select committee it was noted that “stakeholders consider the reduction to be disproportionate”.

The report acknowledges “concerns regarding the proposed reduction in levels of staff and the viability of centre-employed staff to deliver services if staff members are further reduced via maternity leave, sick leave and holiday leave".

A proposed reduction in management roles, with one manager covering more than one site in a cluster, has also come under fire.

Responses so far question whether one manager is enough to cope with the demands of running a number of centres.

Conflict between staff at proposed hub and satellite centres has also emerged. Lead centre staff want control over budgets and staff recruitment in all centres to “ensure there are clear lines of accountability".

But the report adds that “proposed satellite centres have stated they would wish to continue to employ all of their core staff and retain budget responsibility".

A protest was staged ahead of the education and children’s services select committee meeting this week.

A spokesman for the council said that an original plan would have seen the closure of four centres. He said: “What we have come up with is a plan that minimises the impact and ensures that there is a structure in place that will last for years to come.

“There will be less capacity but we are confident that anyone who is in need of a service will still have access to it.”

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