Youth funding halved in five years

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 July 2015

Weston Children's Centre activities and messy play in Weston Town Quarry.

Weston Children's Centre activities and messy play in Weston Town Quarry.

Archant

SERVICES for young people including youth offending and support for pregnant teenagers has been cut by nearly half in the past five years.

A report by The Children’s Society and the National Children’s Bureau shows North Somerset Council’s spending in children’s centres and other early intervention services for young people has fallen by £8.4million in 2010-11 to £4.6million in 2015-16.

This has been exacerbated by Government cuts to the early intervention grant, which enabled councils to step in through children’s centres, young offender and crime-prevention services and services for teenage pregnancy, drugs and alcohol misuse.

When the grant was cut in 2010-11, North Somerset Council’s total funding for early intervention services fell from £9.6million to £8.4million that year.

Weston central councillor Mike Bell said: “The coalition government got it wrong when they cut early years funding.

“It is widely accepted early support for children and young people makes all the difference to their life chances and lifestyles.

“North Somerset’s children’s centres and early intervention service do a great job and have tried to protect frontline services, but a 50 per cent cut in Government support cannot be expected to take place without consequences.

“The Central Weston Children’s Centre is fantastic. However, they need bigger premises, better integration with health services and more resources in order to give all our children the best start in life.”

The executive member for finance, Cllr David Pasley, has agreed to look into finding new premises for the children’s centre.

A council spokesman said: “Every service the council provides has been affected by savings we have had to make following cuts to our budget by central Government.

“One area where funding was cut was for youth services, but that has been replaced by a much more localised service run by different groups.”

Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau said it was positive that councils had done all they could to protect services.

But she said: “Early intervention in children’s lives is a far wiser use of scarce resources than late intervention once problems have escalated. There is no getting away from the fact that they [councils] have also had to make significant cuts which will impact on the lives of vulnerable children.”

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