Councillors oppose proposed £800,000 cut to youth work in Norfolk

County Hall, Norwich. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

County Hall, Norwich. Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Councillors have voiced their opposition to proposals to cut the funding for Norfolk County Council's youth work.

The council is considering the outcome of a public consultation on options to save £123m over the next three years, and hopes to use a combination of these options, and possible council tax increases, to fill an identified multi-million pound budget gap.

The proposals include plans to cut more than £800,000 from its youth work over the next three years.

This includes ending funding the Young People and Debt project, and halving funding for Momentum, which supports groups working with children and young people in Norfolk.

Yesterday's Children's Services Committee heard 61pc of people who answered the consultation question were against the proposal, with 26pc in favour.

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According to the report, the majority of those who were against the proposal 'cited the important preventative role that youth services had to play, particularly in promoting the wellbeing and development of young people'.

Michael Rosen, executive director of Children's Services, told councillors that, if there was one Children's Service saving he would like to reserve, it would be this one.

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However, he added this did not mean he would want the money to be spent in the same way as now, and would want to consult with the sector on the best way to use it.

Councillor Barry Stone said: 'I am very much in favour of retaining funding for the youth service, but not in the way we currently do it.'

He said he had doubts about how the youth advisory boards were currently working.

Councillor David Collis, said: 'I'm highly reluctant to agree to losing that funding, but I do feel quite strongly we do need to perhaps have a little bit more consideration about how we spend it.'

Councillor Julie Brociek-Coulton said it would be 'shocking' if Momentum lost any of its funding.

Eight councillors voted to ask the Policy and Resources Committee to remove the proposed cut, while the Conservative councillors abstained.

Councillors then considered whether they supported increasing the level of council tax, above the 2pc the government has already permitted to help fund adult social services.

Green councillor Richard Bearman proposed support for the maximum 1.99pc increase allowed without triggering a referendum, and was seconded by UKIP councillor Denis Crawford.

Eight councillors voted in favour; the Conservatives abstained.

The Policy and Resources Committee will consider the recommendations of all the committees on February 8, while the whole council will set the budget on February 22.

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