County councillors claim decision to cut commissioned youth services could save authority from going bust 

The Pavilion Youth & Community Café in Broadstairs will lose half its funding if KCC cuts commissioned youth services

By Local Democracy Reporter Simon Finlay

The loss of many of Kent youth services, including services provided by Ramsgate’s Pie Factory Music and by Pavilion Youth and Community Cafe in Broadstairs, in a programme of cuts could stave off the prospect of the county’s largest authority going to the wall, it has been claimed.

A new funding arrangement will see the end of Kent County Council (KCC) subsidies for youth clubs and other activities currently commissioned by the council but run by outside organisations.

It will save £900,000 and see the adoption of a new ‘family hubs’ model to perform legal obligations and allow KCC to access £11m in government funding.

Cllr Sarah Hudson said there was “no magic money tree”, warning the council faced being taken over by government inspectors if forced to issue a section 114 notice to effectively declare bankruptcy.

Critics have claimed the loss of youth services will affect youngsters’ mental wellbeing, drive some into gang crime and cost far more in the long run.

The Labour group at County Hall called a special meeting of the KCC scrutiny committee on December 19 to examine the proposals.

Cllr Alister Brady claimed there had not been a meaningful consultation and that government guidance was not properly followed.

He also said the views of young people affected by the cuts were not properly listened to.

The KCC leadership has long complained the cost of delivering its services cannot be met by the funding received from central government. Up to £86m in savings must be found next year, according to the council’s auditors.

Councils across the country are on the brink of collapse, claiming they are not receiving enough money to run the services they must  by law.

Cllr Hudson said: “No one wants to cut services – we don’t stand for elections to do such things but if we don’t implement these proposals before us, an even worse fate could happen – section 114 – and a government inspector running the show and we would have nothing but the basics for families and young people.

“All these discretionary services would be scrapped. Isn’t it better for us to control things?

“This concept of family hubs is being embraced all over the country by authorities of all different political persuasions but gets us the added bonus of accessing £11m of government funding, too.”

KCC had to do the responsible thing in order to survive, said Cllr Hudson.

She added: “Discretionary services are exactly that – discretionary. There is no magic money tree. This is a Conservative administration making tough choices and not happy to to keep spending money we don’t have in the hope that someone else will bale us out.

“Section 114 will happen if that is the case.”

Labour group leader Dr Lauren Sullivan argued that some services to be lost are not discretionary but statutory.

She said that 16 year olds were most likely to be affected by the loss of facilities such as youth clubs.

Cllr Sullivan added: “What about those 16 year olds being picked up by those gangs and groomed in those gangs because there is nowhere to go? There is no youth provision in the family hubs model – it has not been defined.”

She warned that the providers may take legal action to have the proposals judicially reviewed and asked for any decision to be deferred.

Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Antony Hook claimed adoption of the family hubs was a “county-wide big bang” and suggested they should be piloted in a few selected areas first.

But Cllr Trevor Bond said that an £11m injection into family services is a “real big plus”.

Fellow Conservative member Shellina Prendergast said that “one of the consequences of ageing is that we forget that we were young once” and that the voices of the youth have not been heard in this case.

The decision for the cuts to go ahead, despite the public outcry, followed a two-month public consultation over the summer.

 

17 Comments

  1. Politics are ultimately about choices. If our Tory grandees up in Maidstone chose to subsidise white elephant Station and put massive profits into the pockets of private contractors, no wonder we have no resources for our vital youth services
    .Throw these parasites out!

  2. If the council were to stop missing members getting lucrative allowances on top of their salary that might help. Also cutting back on some of the staff when they move to the new HQ might also be an idea.

  3. I can honestly say, that growing up without youth clubs or similar services didn’t effect my mental health, nor did it force me to join gangs, even in Peckham/Old Kent Road area.

    • Indeed, but I’d rather they were cut than those for the more genuinely vulnerable such as the disabled & the elderly.

    • Nor do I, and in an ideal would we’d also have enough money for properly repaired roads, clean streets, open toilets, seafront lifts and refurbished theatres. Sadly, Thanet is not an ideal world.

  4. Well Lily, consider this:
    Who is going to pay for your pension in the future?
    Who will select and run your care home,staff the hospital when you need care?
    Yes Lily, the young, so perhaps investing in the young might be a good thing.
    We are where we are, because of choices made, which benefitted a tiny minority and now our vital services are a sea of dysfunction, decrepitude,and disorder.
    Putting things right will take time,money, and perseverance, something so far governments since 2010 have lacked.They believe in the short term, the quick and easy solution.
    Mucking about with Cllr payments might satisfy the desire to inflict pain on our legislators but isn’t going to cut the mustard.

    • well said. We need our young people to grow into caring ,helpfull people not I’m alright Jack’s.We provide for them and they will provide for us. This is what grownups do.
      KCC going to the wall ? Ask their Government for more money. Not spending it on MP’s to pay for heating in there stables. Where has all the money gone for PPi that were of no use. Why has the Government not made the fraudsters pay it back ? Oh yes, it was paid to their friends

  5. Just another example of Tory mismanagement at all levels over the years! This may not have an immediate affect but long term we will see the impact of more ASB and Crime with less resources in Kent Police, mental health will continue to increase, child development will be impacted and we will see more people unemployed. The organisations that deliver our youth services are often lifelines for young people. Not everyone is fortunate enough to thrive at school or have a good home and this is becoming more and more. Schools are under resourced and over stretched! When these services are cut who is going to pick up the gap?

    • My parents split when I was very young, and I ended up moving all over the place, leaving with no qualifications after 4 different secondary schools. Helped toughen me up, making a woman out of me!

  6. That’s the problem with Thanet.Low educational attainment.
    If true,your statement explains a lot.
    KCC has made selective education a sacred cow,but it has not implemented it correctly.The 1944 Education act designed a tripartite system of Grammar, Technical,and Secondary Modern. However,only 2 types of school exist, Grammar and Secondary Modern.
    The former is full of middle class kids which have benefitted from tutoring or prep school cramming to gain a Grammar school place, and everyone else some 75% to 85% gets Oasis academy type education.
    The waste of talent and social damage must be costing the county millions in lost productivity.
    Bearing in mind the mess that has been made by privately educated and Grammar school educated politicians is not a glowing testament for retention of either type of school.

    • I don’t think grammar schools are always “full of middle class kids”. Surely it depends on the local demographic. Most of the pupils in the one I went to were working-class, because of the catchment area it was in. Have things changed a lot since the 6os, and if so, how?

  7. Even if one “suffered” a low educational achievement, it does not mean they can’t empty dust bins, mop up bodily fluids of the old and infirm in a care home where a gold plated education isn’t necessary, does it?

    It is the proles among us that do the jobs the wine swilling erudite class won’t do, so at least there’s a job for all. The yoot of today need a ready reckoning; waste the education provided, then collect waste when you leave.

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