Hartlepool council facing its ‘most difficult year ever’ as it faces £6million deficit

Hartlepool Civic Centre
Hartlepool Civic Centre

Hartlepool Borough Council is facing its ‘most difficult year ever’ with further Government cuts and a £6million deficit.

The claim from a senior director comes as the children’s services department at the council looks set to make £500,000 savings next year.

Sally Robinson, director of children's and joint commissioning services at Hartlepool Borough Council.

Sally Robinson, director of children's and joint commissioning services at Hartlepool Borough Council.

Hartlepool Borough Council children’s services committee is to discuss making the cuts which could also include ’16 potential redundancies’ in the department.

It comes as the council is expected to face a deficit of £5.987million for 2019/2020 which is predicted to worsen for the two years after.

Council bosses have attributed the deficit to cuts in Hartlepool’s core government funding, which by 2019/20 will be 45% less than in 2013/14 – a reduction of £20.9million.

The council will hold a review into its reserves to address the deficit but said cuts would also have to be made.

Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Hartlepool Civic Centre.

As part of this, the children’s services committee is proposed to have to make £510,000 savings.

A planned £460,000 would be saved from reshaping the early help service, with proposals to move from four to two locality teams where health, family support and children’s centres activities will be fully integrated.

A council report said it would involve reducing the number of managerial, operational and administrative staff and therefore a number of staff ‘will be at risk of redundancy’.

The proposals also involve the council looking to make £60,000 savings in its children’s social care family support arrangements.

A review of these arrangements has identified the opportunity to merge some services and proposals would see two posts removed, one of which is currently vacant.

A report from Sally Robinson, director of children’s and joint commissioning services, says the council will face its most difficult year yet, with cuts from government set to continue.

It said: “The Government has previously confirmed that local government funding cuts will continue until 2019/20.

“This means the sector will have faced nine consecutive years of funding cuts – which is unprecedented.

“As a result of this funding cut and unfunded budget pressures, the council faces a 2019/20 budget deficit of £5.987million.

“This is a very significant deficit and means that 2019/20 is the most difficult year the council has ever faced.

“Addressing this deficit will require significant changes in services which will take time to implement and a detailed plan is being developed.”

The report concedes it will reduce resources available to support children and families but it aims to refocus resources towards those children and families most vulnerable.

It comes as the Local Government Association has estimated that by 2020 pressure on the ‘looked after children’ sector will reach £2billion nationwide.

A decision will be made on the savings at the council children’s services committee meeting, which will take place at the Civic Centre from 4pm on Tuesday, November 13.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service