“Council invests £1.4m in youth service to combat austerity”

By Nina Jacobs

| 12 June 2019

Newham Council is investing £1.4m to expand its youth service in a bid to reverse budget cuts that left its spending in this area among the lowest in London.

The funding boost will be used to create 33 new youth work roles and to increase provision through expansion of the borough's four existing youth zones.

Data published by the Green Party last year revealed Newham's spending on youth services had been slashed from £2.1m in 2011/12 to £400,000 in 2017/18, a cut of more than 80 per cent.

A report presented to the council's cabinet in April, which approved £1.4m funding for the 2019/20 financial year, said the preferred option was for Newham to deliver an in-house expanded youth work offer.

"The council has responsibilities to support young people, especially those who are more vulnerable, to engage positively in their communities and to make successful transitions to adulthood.

"However, between 2011/12 and 2017/18, reductions in funding resulted in youth service budgets in Newham which were among the lowest in London," the report said.

The report states the proposal to expand existing youth services is the first stage in extending Newham's "universal youth offer".

"A mapping exercise and review is under way to support further development of provision, in line with the mayor's commitment to expand the number of youth hubs from four to eight," the report added.

The recruitment drive will see a range of roles created for both senior and junior youth workers as well as specialist positions.

The council said there would also be roles designed to promote participation and increased volunteering opportunities.

It said a decision to expand its youth service was made following feedback from its youth and adult citizen assemblies as well as its annual youth zone satisfaction survey.

Increased sessions will be offered at each of the borough's four youth zones and a detached youth team will be established, the council said.

The proportion of nine- to 19-year-olds accessing Newham's youth services would also be increased from 12 per cent to 20 per cent, with the number of weekly term-time sessions upped from 18 to 65.

The proposal would also ensure young people with special educational needs and disabilities, looked-after children, young carers and LGBTQ young people could access enhanced, intensive youth services.

Rokhsana Fiaz, Newham's mayor, said the plans reflected the council's response to feedback from young people that expanding youth services was a priority for them.

"Despite falling budgets and huge pressures to spend more in other areas, we are committed to investing in our young people.

"Our expanded youth service and youth empowerment function will be designed for young people and with their input," she said.