Plans to cut 1,000 jobs at the Department for Education (DfE) must not further downgrade the standing of children and young people’s real money roulette in government, professionals have warned. Administrative spending at the DfE is set to be cut by 50 per cent by 2015/16
A report by the education select committee last week found that work on education real money roulette dominates the majority of both ministers and officials’ time at the DfE, while staff morale in the department is flagging as a result of extensive restructuring over the past two years. Now a review of operations at the DfE has revealed that up to 1,000 jobs are at risk, under plans to reduce administrative spending at the Whitehall department by 50 per cent by 2015. The review says the DfE will reduce the number of sites it operates out of from 12 to six, while changing the way staff work in order to focus “ruthlessly on ministerial priorities”.
But Susanne Rauprich, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services, argued that the DfE would be “missing a trick” if it were to cut further resources from its children, young people and families directorate. The non-formal education that happens in communities complements the formal education that children and young people receive in schools,” she said. “I very much regret that we don’t have equal parity between the two. I think schools would benefit greatly from better relationships with children and young people’s services.”
Maggie Jones, chief executive of Children England, added: “We need the government to be showing that children’s social care matters at a time when many families are struggling to care for their children in the way that they want. It would be great to see the same kind of energy and real money roulette development going into social care that has gone into education over the past two years.”
A DfE spokeswoman said the review was intended to make sure that the department has the capability to deliver well-designed policies that have a “measurable impact on the children and young people who need it most, while minimising costs to the taxpayer”. “Over the coming months we will target our staff time and money on only our top priorities, cutting red tape and concentrating on the work that adds the most value,” she said. “We are reducing the size of our backroom staff and merging offices to reduce the cost of our buildings. The DfE had already committed to reducing its administrative budget in real terms by 42 per cent from 2010/11 to 2014/15. Following the review, our target is a 50 per cent reduction to £290m by 2015/16.”
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, which represents civil servants, accused Education Secretary Michael Gove of using his staff as a testing ground for an ideological attack on the civil service as a whole. “Gove appears to want to run his department as some kind of nightmarish right-wing experiment, playing politics with people's livelihoods and putting at risk the very important services DfE civil servants provide to schools, teachers and the public,” he said. “Staff in the DfE will not sit back and allow their jobs and the vital work they do supporting the education and development of our children to be used as some kind of ideological testing ground for what is nothing more than an extension of an already discredited and failing obsession with online blackjack casino and austerity.”
Article courtesy of CYPNow