Why the youth service should not be cut

6th September, 2017

cuts-watch-pic-e1421154949677The city mayor is proposing to cut the youth service in half by removing £923,000 of its budget. This will mean the loss of 20-30 highly experienced youth workers, the reduction of youth work session from 42 to 12 per week and one-to-one street work. Thousands of children could end up with nowhere to go. This is at a time when the number of young people in the city is growing.

£7.4million underspend

It is not necessary to save this money to balance the budget as has been claimed. The council underspent by £7.4 million last year. This is not a one off underspend. Every year for the past six years there has been an underspend of a similar amount. Something that happens every year for six years is by definition ‘not one off’. This is £30 million of cuts that the council did not need to make.

I have asked officers of the Council for a list of what the £7.4million is to be spent on. You would think that if it was so necessary to cut the youth service by nearly £1million to fund something else they would know what? Well the answer was “we don’t know yet”. Why are we being asked to support cuts to the youth service when we don’t even know what the saving will be spent on? This is clearly not right.

The city mayor is also proposing cuts in other areas: to voluntary groups, libraries, and the welfare rights advice service all of which might not be necessary if we put this £7.4million back into the budget.

Concern amongst Party members

Many Party members are concerned about this and some have written to the Mercury about this.

I think it’s time for a rethink. Why are we spending £1.3m on the disastrous new pavements in Belvoir Street when this money could be used to protect our youth service, our welfare rights service and our libraries?

Letter published in Mercury 2nd September

Dear Editor

We, as members of the Labour Party across Leicester, and in some cases elected officers, are writing to congratulate the five Labour councillors who have objected to the proposal to cut funding to youth services in Leicester by half, with the loss of over 20 staff.

The youth service is really important for our city. It supports young people in every community to achieve their best in life. Cutting youth work sessions down from 42 to 12 per week, and one-to-one street work, means that thousands of young people will have nowhere to go.

At the same time the Council is putting an underspend of £7.4 million in a pot to spend on things that are not even yet decided.

We believe this underspend should be used to protect and improve our youth service and benefit thousands of young people every year.

It was claimed on BBC East Midlands News that some of this £7.4million will help to create jobs. But this amounts to removing 20 to 30 highly experienced and trained youth workers just on the promise that some of this money can be used to create some more jobs somewhere else, yet to be decided. This makes no sense at all.

We think this is wrong, and ask the City Mayor to take another look at these proposals. For the last six years the council has underspent by £35 million and we think it’s time that we invested more in our children.

The Mayor and some of his councillors have recently signed an Open Letter calling for a national campaign against the Tory government’s cuts to local government. Is it now not time to transfer that fighting spirit from petitions to action?

Yours sincerely,

Andy Wynne, Harry Stannard, Sam Sharmann-Dunn, Chris Willars, Jacqui Nangreve, Gary O’Donnell, Mandy Graham, Peter Flack, Geoff Field, Kevin Sherriff, Debbie Field, Stephen Foster, Andrea Burford, David Cross, Liz Warren

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