Rotherham Council, stripped of its powers after a series of child sexual exploitation (CSE) scandals, is still waiting to have its authority reinstated over its children and young people’s services.
Now the authority has announced plans for a consultation into delivery of services which could see the number of children’s centres cut from 12 to nine and youth centres from 11 to six.
This is to make services more efficient and effective, the authority has stressed, focusing its “limited resources” on services for children rather than paying for under-used buildings. The potential saving, the authority says, would be £522,000 on top of £1.2m already saved since January 2016 by bringing together separate services into teams.
“I want to reassure people that the level of services in the borough will not be reduced by the proposals as there are no plans to lose any staff in the localities,” said Coun Gordon Watson, deputy leader of Rotherham Council and cabinet member for children and young people’s services. “Instead people will be able to access services at sites they already use in the community or through street-based youth activities.
“This is what young people have told us they want and is something we have already successfully trialled in some areas, so we know it works. Our focus needs to be on delivering services which children, families and young people have told us that they actually need and value. If we are going to be effective, then we need to be out there in the community and not tied to just delivering services from buildings.
“We want to make sure that the services people need the most, are where they need them to be.”
Rotherham Council, put under the control of commissioners after a CSE report identified a series of failings at the council, was returned almost all of its powers in September. Commissioners still have control over children and young people’s services, although an Ofsted report published last month said children’s services had since been “transformed”, rating them as good for the first time since the scandal.
The new proposals could see services moved from buildings that are “under-used and in poor repair” to outreach or street-based work, or at drop in centres.
Early Help services would be run from the remaining children’s centres, with a further three “link centres”, while youth services would be delivered from a mix of youth centres and new family hubs.