Youth council convinces local authority to save services

By Ellie Clayton

| 17 January 2013

A youth council has successfully influenced its local authority not to push ahead with planned cuts to services for young people, protecting more than half a million pounds to fund frontline youth provision in the area.

Youth, music and drama services have all been protected. Image: Phil Adams

The youth council in Redbridge, north east London, lobbied the local authority to rethink proposals that would have seen £696,000 cut from the budget for services to young people.

Redbridge Council confirmed that councillors have reconsidered their initial plans to cut the budget and will now retain £500,000 for spending on local provision for young people, as a result of meetings with the local youth council.

The council said music and drama centres would also be protected from the cuts, with £175,000 funding. Any remaining savings required will be made through efficiency improvements and not cuts to frontline services.

Consultation meetings between young people and council leaders began when the local authority first put forward proposals to make funding cuts. 

As a result, the Redbridge youth council then decided to survey 1,000 local young people to ask them about the services they most valued. 

It found that their top four priorities were youth work sessions, the Duke of Edinburgh Award programme, Connexions and teenage pregnancy services.

Alan Weinberg, lead member for children’s services, said: “We have listened to the youth of Redbridge and we plan to plough back £500,000 into services to young people and £175,000 into Redbridge music and drama centres – meaning no youth centre will close and no cuts to frontline youth services.

“This decision rewards the incredible hard work of the youth council and shows it has real teeth.”

The decision was welcomed by members of the youth council. Hamza Kazmi, 19, from Ilford, said: “The power of youth voice influenced decision makers and we made a major impact.”

Mehwish Sheikh, 17, also from Ilford, added: “I am ecstatic over this result.  Our endeavours have achieved a truly significant result for the youth of Redbridge.”

The revised budget proposals are expected to be approved and will be formalised by the council on 28 February.

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