West Sussex Youth Services have been hit by a massive additional cut of £950K, on top of an already anticipated £700K. So £1.65M will be cut from April 2014, and this means 118 essential youth work jobs supporting our young people are to go. UNISON Branch Secretary Dan Sartin spoke against the cuts at the Select Committee meeting tasked with reviewing the proposals; this evidence is still available to watch at www.westsussex.public-i.tv
The cutbacks are short-sighted, damaging and will reduce opportunity and equality in the County. The cuts will cease all open access provision, so only youngsters already identified as vulnerable will be able to receive a service. Bespoke work done with minority groups such as travellers and gay young people has also been axed. The branch gave two media interviews to BBC South Today about the cuts.
Despite the evidence, Tory councillors at Select Committee voted together to push the cuts through, though one to his credit did unexpectedly vote against. Despite talk of listening to young people, it was noticeable that no young people were invited to give evidence, and a proper public consultation was refused.
UNISON has supported its members throughout the formal consultation on redundancies, securing some changes to the proposals and improvements for a number of individuals. To see the Branch’s formal consultation response, please get in touch.