Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

Unions urge public response on Youth Services

Unions urge public response on Youth Services

Today two trade unions, UNISON and the Community and Youth Workers’ Union (CYWU), called on West Sussex residents to take part in a public consultation on the future of Youth Services.

The West Sussex Youth Service, which provides a range of professional services to young people, from community youth work to services to prevent re-offending, has already seen budgets slashed by £2million.

“This first round of cuts has been appalling for the service and our young people. But now the Council is coming back for more. A further £2million will be cut from the service over the next three years – unless the public speak out to defend their service and tell Councillors ‘no more’”

 said Daniel Sartin, Deputy Branch Secretary of UNISON West Sussex.

Jason O’Hagan, Branch Chair of the West Sussex CYWU commented, “Adolescents are not adults, and they are not children. Medical studies show that brain function is different during adolescence – young people think and act differently to how we as adults might expect. What’s more, young people are entering the toughest period for decades, as job opportunities dry up and youth unemployment rises. Now more than ever, we need professional, trained staff within Youth Services to help our young people make the right choices and stay on the right path.”

Mr O’Hagan continued, “Any further cuts could have significant impact right across our communities and services. For the sake of ‘balancing the books’ now, West Sussex may well pay the price for such short-sighted actions for decades to come.”

The unions called on West Sussex residents, including young people themselves of course, to complete the questionnaire to make it clear to Councillors how they value Youth Services and the essential role they play for young people.

The unions criticised the role County Councillors think the ‘Big Society’ could play. WSCC has stated it sees the development of community groups as vital in picking up the service shortfall created by the cuts. Yet this is at a time when volunteers are increasingly thin on the ground, and the Council is taking money out of voluntary sector budgets.

Mr Sartin said, “Councillors should not kid the public. You cannot take £4million pounds out of a professional service and expect churches and the voluntary sector to pick up the pieces. We’ve seen no evidence that the Big Society agenda is making any difference to West Sussex’s communities in the face of these damaging cuts.”

Both unions noted levels of County Council reserves and called on the Council to pull back from the brink of disaster, and respond sympathetically to public opinion.
The consultation will run until Friday, October 14 and the questionnaire is available at:

Dr Colin Wilsdon, Lib Dem Spokesman for Children and Young People added:

“Yes I would firmly encourage as many people as possible to complete the consultation and demonstrate how important youth services are to us.
Youth services have become the cinderella service across the country with savage cuts being made everywhere.  In the current climate of rising unemployment and cutbacks to services and benefits this is not the time to cut back on youth services.  The summer riots show what can happen if something goes wrong.  Services like the youth service need strengthening rather than cutting.

It is possible for the voluntary sector to get more involved but so far we have little evidence about how successful this has been in West Sussex.  As a member of the Select Committee that scrutinises the youth service I will be looking for some hard information on what has been achieved and some contingency planning if the voluntary sector is not able to rise to the challenge.”

Contact: Dr Colin Wilsdon (Vice Chairman) – West Sussex Children and Young People’s Services Select committee – (01273) 842489 Mobile: 07918 081444