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Liberal Democrat highlight Tory Youth Cuts

November 17, 2010 1:54 PM

Simon Galton, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group has highlighted his concerns about the cuts to the Youth Service. The County Council currently spends £4.2m on youth work and in the budget last February, the Conservatives voted to cut £1m from the youth budget.

On top of this there have been further cuts of nearly £500,000 (1) have been targeted by the Conservatives in this year. The current draft Action Plan says it is likely the Youth service will need to make further savings depending on the outcome of the current budget round to be finalised next Feb. The reductions set out in the action plan represent 35% of the total budget but Simon is concerned this could rise to as high as 50% if further cuts are imposed.

In recent surveys of public opinion, youth work has featured high on the list of services the public want to see protected as they recognise the importance of this work to social cohesion and the community wellbeing.

Simon said, "Most departments are being required to identify spending reductions of up to 25% but for the youth service, it looks like being much higher than this. Why is such an important service to young people being targeted with such a disproportionate cut compared to other council services? If this goes through the youth service will be decimated if nearly half the budget currently spend of youth work is removed and the service will end up being a shadow of its present state.

The last inspection of the County's youth service concluded that some aspects were outstanding and served young people well. I accept that we can always improve a service but the proposals in the Action Plan will fundamentally change the service currently provided as it withdraws into the areas of the County with higher need. Youth Work is not just the work done in youth clubs but also the huge amount of detached work which takes place on the streets and benefits the whole community I am concerned that targeting youth work will result in less substantial work for those young people who aren't 'higher need' and this will store up more problems later. We must see youth work as an investment in all young people not just a cost".

1)A further £270,000 was added as an efficiency saving and in July it was decided to make an in year reduction of a further £223,000.