Swindon AdvertiserJobs at children’s centres in Swindon face cut to save cash (From Swindon Advertiser)

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Jobs at children’s centres in Swindon face cut to save cash

Swindon Advertiser: Ed Balls at the opening of Moredon Children's Centre Ed Balls at the opening of Moredon Children's Centre

JOBS could be lost at some children’s centres as they try to cope with a £1.7m cut to a Govern-ment grant that funds the service.

The amount of Early Intervention Grant paid to Swindon Council in 2013/14 will be cut from £9.5m to £7.8m.

The grant helps pay other services but will lead to reduced funding for children’s centres.

The Conservative administration originally proposed in December to group the town’s 14 centres into four clusters and join up the management arrangements to reduce staffing costs. But this plan was shelved after criticism from centre managers.

The council and managers then agreed that each centre would reform its own operations, providing they could still save a total of £190,000 during the financial year and £380,000 in 2014/15, as per the original budget.

Dr Nick Capstick, executive principal at the White Horse Federation, which runs the Drove Children’s Centre, Northampton Street, and the Moredon Children’s Centre in Montrose Close, said there would be a complete review of the operation. This would be aimed at maintaining the services the two centres have a “legal and moral duty” to provide.

Dr Capstick, who emphasised the review was being undertaken in close partnership with Swindon Council, said he could not speak for other centres, but at the two run by the White Horse Federation there was not enough space in the system to not consider job losses as an option to save the cash.

He said: “We have asked whether or not there would be any expressions of interest for voluntary redundancy .

“On that basis it gives us people who would choose to leave for a whole variety of reasons on a slightly enhanced package. The closing date hasn’t gone yet but we’ve had some verbal expressions of interest.

“With less money we have got to either restructure or we have got to do less.

“What we’re hoping to do is to lead a positive review where we will impact on a few people, with a minimum of disruption.

“We do have the benefit of two children’s centres, which means we may be able to combine some back office functions and administration, which will save money.

“We might be able to look at combining members of staff to work across more than one centre.

“And part of our review is to ask do we need to do everything at both centres.

“Or are there ways we can look into of doing certain things at one and certain things at the other?”

Coun David Renard, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “The thing they have to do is make sure the funding supports and matches those children and families who are in greatest need.

“And that’s the challenge, to ensure that we fund the families and work with the families that are in most need and the funding is directed towards them.”

The changes are expected to be implemented in September 2013.

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