In a letter to the Committee for Neighbourhoods, Communities and Equalities (23rd January), Green Councillor Amanda Knight has outlined how proposed cuts to the youth service are ‘incompatible’ with the Council’s own commitments to equality, diversity and anti-discrimination for Brighton and Hove residents.
The letter highlights the findings of the Council’s own Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) on the Youth Budget changes, which states that the planned cuts will lead to “increased vulnerability of young people”, especially those who already face stigma and discrimination such as LGBT or disabled youngsters. Community groups, young people and campaigners have raised concerns with the council about how they will receive support if services such as youth work or youth centres are forced to close.
Councillor Knight is keen that Brighton and Hove City Council adhere to the recommendations of its own Fairness Commission, a project commissioned by the city Council to address poverty, inequality and issues of fairness. Many of its recommendations focused on the importance of youth work, which the Commission states “offer good value for money and clear relationships to community.” The Commission also found that voluntary sector based youth work was a cost-effective way to reduce the need for more expensive statutory support later in life. The letter calls on the NCE Committee to adopt further recommendations from the Commission’s report that refer specifically to young people.
Councillor Knight commented:
“The letter I have written to NCE raises awareness of just some of the equalities issues that we will face as a result of the proposed budget. Even the Council’s own assessment of the impact of cutting youth services acknowledges that young people will not receive the support they need if these cuts are made.
“Many of these services are for young people who are already vulnerable, or who face barriers because of disability, sexual orientation, race and gender discrimination. Young people have themselves said youth work is a lifeline, keeping them out of danger, keeping them safe and helping them develop and succeed.
“Brighton and Hove is renowned for its equality and diversity achievements, something we must commit to now more than ever. We have both a legal and moral duty to prevent inequality and discrimination from deepening.
Taking away sources of support for young people will cause long lasting damage, and entrench the disadvantages that youth work tries to overcome.
“Given this, I am calling on the Council to really look in to their own commitments around equality, to understand the effects of cuts and commit to some of the recommendations of the Fairness Commission around the future of our young people.”
Notes to editors:
 Letter to NCE Committee on Youth Services: [http://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=6264&T=10] page 13
 The Fairness Commission states that: “… effective youth-led, neighbourhood-based youth work is vitally important not only to outcomes for young people but also to the communities in which they live, increasing understanding and improving relationships between the generations.” (p.34)
“youth work delivered by third sector providers offers good value for money and clear relationships to community.” And:
“The council should continue to work with local support projects to ensure policies are inclusive and that all children receive the support they need.”