Cuts to youth services reversed: campaigners rejoice
Brighton and Hove Council have reversed the decision to cut youth service funding after a campaign led by the young people affected.
Council minutes suggested proposed cuts would have been of “up to £400,000 a year”, or 80% of funding. Such cuts would have left about £200,000 for the youth services budget. According to campaigners, cuts were reduced to “about 15%”.
A campaign was launched by various youth groups, charities, young people and youth workers to prevent the cuts. At the end of January, hundreds marched through the streets of Brighton in protest.
Kate, a youth worker and campaigner, wrote: “The final budget has been approved. The cuts to youth services have been changed from the proposed 80% to about 15%. We have got back £645,000 for this year. A victory! Well done and thank you to all who have supported the campaign. There’s more to be done, but for now, let’s celebrate!”.
The cuts were proposed in light of decreased local authority funding from the government.
Seb Royle, a member of Pre-Qual, a youth-led pro-equality group, wrote: “As many residents of Brighton and Hove will already know, further central government cuts to local authorities will see Brighton and Hove City Council compelled to make £24 million of cuts in the city in 2017/18 alone.”.
The Brighton and Hove Independent noted that the cuts would pressure over-subscribed services, whilst the council “pays its chief executive more than the Prime Minister”.
Conservative councillors suggested pay cuts for senior councillors to reduce cuts to youth services.
Such services provide respite for families with disabled children and support for vulnerable young people.
The campaign against the cuts also launched a petition, which has garnered around 2,000 signatures to date.
Brighton and Hove Council discussed the petition at the beginning of February. It may have impacted the council’s decision to reduce cuts.
Council minutes show that councillors voiced their opposition to the cuts: they voted to adopt measures sympathetic with the petition, including an impact assessment.
“Councillor Mac Cafferty stated that he believed the proposed cuts were short-sighted and harmful and would leave young people in a vulnerable position as they could not necessarily ask for help from their teachers, parents or carers” said the report.
Brighton and Hove News Online suggests that reversing cuts to youth services will be financially and socially beneficial since “Research suggests that for every £1 the council spends on youth services, it saves them £5.56”.
These savings may originate from reduced crime rates and reduced pressure on other services that care for young people.
This is evident in Councillor Knight’s statement at a council meeting regarding the cuts: “For many young people youth services will be the difference between them overcoming barriers or slipping through the net, and having the opportunity to succeed with their aspirations rather than ending up in an unsupported or unfavourable situation.”.