73% funding cut will ‘improve’ Southwark youth services, says Labour

Southwark’s Labour council has come under fire for stating that cuts of 73% over the next two years to local youth funding will ‘improve and update’ services.

Young people in the borough have been up in arms since the Council announced its plans for massive youth service cuts at the end of last year.  The complete lack of consultation has also angered young people.  In response, they have lobbied the Council and set up an online petition. 

Liberal Democrat councillors support the young people’s campaign and at the last council meeting asked why youth and play services were being cut so much compared to other council departments. 

In reply, the Leader of the Council stated that the cuts would ‘improve and update our youth offer.’  He also tried to downplay the impact of the 73% budget cut by counting spending on other council services used by young people.

At the last meeting of the council, Liberal Democrat councillors then asked the Leader what guarantees could be given that educational work on sexual health and personal safety could be protected if specialised youth workers are being laid off by the Council.

Southwark’s Liberal Democrat Youth Spokesperson, councillor James Okosun, said:

“Only in Southwark can a 73% funding cut over two years be described as a way to ‘improve’ youth services in the borough.

“The Council has started to see sense and phase in other proposed cuts.  It now needs to start listening to the borough’s young people and find a way to reduce or stop these massive cuts in their tracks.

“No other council service is facing cuts on this scale and the knock-on effects could be huge.  More teenage pregnancies, more sexually transmitted infections and more people getting involved in gangs are real risks if specialised youth workers and services are axed.  The Council needs to think again on youth services.”

 

NOTES

A copy of the question that the Leader of the Council answered at the last council assembly meeting on 25 January is below

QUESTION TO THE LEADER FROM COUNCILLOR HAMISH McCALLUM

Which frontline council services other than youth and play services are facing a 73% budget cut?

RESPONSE

“…We are committed to working with the voluntary sector and the young people who use our services to improve and update our youth offer, and we will be undertaking further consultation over and above the widespread discussions that we have already had with both young people in Southwark and our voluntary sector partners, in order to find innovative ways to deliver the services young people in Southwark want and need.”