Parents say cuts to children's services in Birmingham are 'devastating' for young people

  • ITV News Central reporter Lewis Warner spoke to parents, councillors, and experts about how proposed cuts of £57m to children's services would impact young people in Birmingham.

Parents say cuts to children's services in Birmingham will be "devastating" to young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

Birmingham City Council is proposing cuts of more than £57m to its children's services budget, as it grapples with balancing its books.

In total, £149m worth of savings have been announced so far - with £300m needed over the next two years.

Families say their children will suffer, because of what they call the "financial mismanagement of councillors who are still in power."

One concerned mother spoke to ITV News Central about how cuts could affect her family.

Sabiha Aziz's children Adam and Aisha both have learning disabilities and rely on daily care provided by Birmingham City Council.

"My children are wholly reliant on the council's SEN provision. The cuts will be devastating on the young people themselves," she says.

"We're talking about a loss of the right school placement to meet their needs, we're talking about a loss of short breaks and respite, which they need, which means they can access the community.

"We're talking about a potential loss of health, medication, things that they use. And so the loss actually is quite profound for the young people and SEN families of the city. It mustn't be underestimated."

Sabiha says the cuts will be 'devastating' for her family. Credit: ITV News Central

The cuts to children's services will save the most money for the council, which declared itself effectively bankrupt in September this year.More than £57m is proposed to be cut - about 13% of its budget.Other cuts like to Adult Social Care - about 5% of this budget - would save more than £21m. Housing including provision for the homeless will be cut by more than 23%.

The council's own management budget will be cut the most, almost halved, saving £15m - and putting many council employees out of jobs.The council's leadership says the proposed cuts aren't a done deal - and that everyone will get an opportunity to have their say.

Cllr Sharon Thompson notes there'll be a public consultation in February. Credit: ITV News Central

Councillor Sharon Thompson is the deputy leader of Birmingham City Council.

She noted: "There will be consultation in February, once we get through to the next stage, but the issues that we are seeing is what's happening across the country.

"We're seeing what's happening in Nottingham - local government is broken, and part of this is to do with inflation and increase of need. So this is something that needs addressing nationally, but here in Birmingham we're taking responsibility for the issues that we have." The council had previously pledged to ensure any cuts 'protected the vulnerable' - something charities say isn't possible with cuts so severe.  Tim Nichols, from the National Autistic Society said: "It is, frankly, a myth that you can protect vulnerable people whilst also stripping out resources from these services.

"These are the services that are supporting people that for those services would be incredibly vulernable."

Sabiha adds: "I don't have any sympathy or understanding for the situation the council finds itself in, because it is a mess of their own creation. A mismanagement of funds at this level has happened over a number of years, and the people who are in charge at the moment are the same people that have been around while all of this happened.

"So why should me and my young people now pay for their mismanagement of funds and for their failure?"Precisely where the cuts will fall will become clearer January - but parents are already coming to terms with how a this difficult start to the New Year could hurt their families.

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