Charities may close as Brighton and Hove council prepares to scrap £1.3m youth services contract

Posted On 25 Nov 2016 at 10:25 pm

Brighton and Hove City Council is to scrap a £1.3 million three-year contract to provide youth services to some of the most vulnerable young people in the area.

The funding – about £450,000 a year – is currently paid to eleven voluntary organisations, including eight that work together as the Brighton and Hove Youth Collective.

The core funding has been used to attract a similar sum of money from other sources, such as the National Lottery. This funding – and future cash – will be thrown into doubt and may leave some local charities at risk of closing.

Much of their focus has been on preventative work, for example, helping to keep young people out of trouble.

One insider said: “The Youth Collective works with more than 2,500 young people in some of the most deprived parts of the city with an incredible track record of turning lives around.

“We’ve had no communication from the council about any cuts. Our understanding is that the council plans to invest £450,000 a year in these vital services.”

Councillor Tom Bewick

Councillor Tom Bewick

Without support, some fear that a growing number of young people may end up needing much more expensive targeted services provided, for example, by the likes of the council’s youth offending team.

Others, who receive counselling and support from specialist voluntary groups, may instead come to need help from social services or the NHS such as their family doctor, mental health services or hospitals.

Another insider described the planned cut as a false economy, expressing concern about a potential rise in drug use, crime and anti-social behaviour, saying: “They’re cutting preventative services. They’ll be left with the more expensive, more specialised services.

“They could end up needing targeted services such as the youth offending service which costs much more. The difficulty with preventative services is that it’s hard to prove that they actually prevented something – that something didn’t happen as a result.”

The £1.3 million cut is being made against a backdrop of a £45 million budget gap over the coming few years – until 2020.

The council is trying to ensure that it can fulfil its statutory duties and protect nurseries and children’s centres. Spending cuts are being targeted at non-statutory services – those that the council doesn’t have to provide by law.

The new three-year contract for youth services was due to start in April for
• open-access youth work across four areas of the city
• equalities youth work for three protected groups (LGBT, BME and disabilities)
• youth substance misuse and sexual health services

Charities and voluntary groups began work on their bids at the start of November with a deadline of next Friday (2 December). And the council has only just extended the bid deadline until the following Wednesday (7 December).

The voluntary groups and charities bidding for the work are expected be told formally on Monday (28 November) to stop work on their tender documents.

One of those involved in the process said: “We’re four weeks into a procurement process that went live at the start of November and a lot of people have been working very hard to be in the bidding process.

“At this moment in time we have had no official word and we are still working on that procurement process.

“We won’t really know what the full picture is until Monday but it’s looking pretty grim.”

Councillor Tom Bewick, who chairs the council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee, said: “With all council budgets cut back to the bone, we’re having to look at some very difficult and unpalatable options.

“Unfortunately the non-statutory youth service is not immune.

Logo Youth Collective
“I want to stress that we are not getting out of supporting young people. We really value the excellent work that the community and voluntary sector does on behalf of our city.

“I hope we can find a way through these challenges before full council makes the final decision next February.”

Another person involved in the procurement process, Ben Glazebrook, co-ordinator of the Brighton and Hove Youth Collective, said: “We’ve had no notice of these cuts but if they are being proposed then this has been a colossal waste of everybody’s time.”

The Youth Collective is made up of Impact Initiatives, Sussex Central YMCA, the Trust for Developing Communities, the Hangleton and Knoll Project, the Tarner Community Project, the Deans Youth Project, the Crew Club and Brighton Youth Centre.

Some of the youth work is carried out by three other organisations – Allsorts, the BME Young People’s Project and Extratime.

Two years ago similar proposals were put forward but defeated after councillors worked across party lines to “spend to save”. Since then, though, the council budget has come under further pressure.

• The council’s youth and communities service manager Chris Parfitt left his job today (Friday 25 November) with colleagues saying that he was unaware that the bidding process is due to be halted on Monday.

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  2. Gerry Hussein Reply

    Not having heard of Brighton and Hove Youth Collective and their work before, I have just taken a cursory look at their website and Social Media profiles to try and get a better understanding of what they do. I understand them to be a collective organisation, representing various youth groups around the City. This is not a comment on the individual groups – however as a collective, I’d expect their website to provide an overview of the best of the work of the groups, giving an insight into the value they are creating withing their target audiences…

    I’d like to see evidence to the contrary, however at first glance nothing there that shows an engaged organisation and community doing stuff that will be missed by many. Where can I find this?

    In this day and age and particularly if your target is a younger audience and you can’t provide a digital trail of evidence of your actual impact on peoples lives other than in the shape of glossy ‘manifesto’ documents and reports, I’d suggest something is amiss.

    Some examples:

    1) What’s on page bare, not much by way of past events, numbers attended, engagement etc

    By contrast see for Brighton for what community events/meetings look like. People of all ages and interests, SELF-ORGANISING to get together to do stuff – week on week:

    2) Take a look at the BYC Social Media Profiles:
    Twitter – 681 followers: Scant activity, no signs of engagement
    Facebook – 820 followers: Scant activity, little engagement

    Contrast with other SELF-ORGANISING community pages such as these (note activity and engagement with comments):
    Brighton People – over 15,000 followers
    The People’s Republic of Brighton & Hove – over 20,000 followers:
    Hanover Community Board – over 10,000 followers:

    3. The BYC News Page – what little activity there is all about advocating for the organisations survival and the ‘value’ of the work they do. Where is the evidence of new thinking, ideas and actual making a difference to people’s lives – in their own words?

    Where is digital evidence of reviews, testimonials, actual comments traceable to real people of what they are gaining in association with these organisations?

    If the question comes back about money and resources to do these ‘digital engagementand reporting’ things, I’d just point back to the many examples on-line of engaged people already providing feedback through their own motivation and in their own time – having been provided with a structure both on-line and offline to do so. Lack of digital engagement evidence probably denotes a failing initiative and thus is probably a waste of public money IMO.

    In conclusion, I’d say the Council ought to conduct an ‘Out of the Box’ survey on where EFFECTIVE community work is truly being done under different labels in our City – based on evidence that is already out there – across public, private and voluntary led sectors AS WELL AS self-organising initiatives by unrecognised groups such as the examples provided above. IMO we should be finding ways, not necessarily monetarily, to first RECOGNISE then spread news of the people and community self-help initiatives that are already on-going and in which more people can take part in – should they wish to do so – in the City.

    • Adam Muirhead Reply

      Online marketing does not good youthwork maketh. Lack of digital engagement evidence probably denotes organisations that would rather put money to front-line delivery than PR, nothing more. I’d invite anyone to go and meet with the young people and communities being serviced and ask them about their perception of “EFFECTIVE community work” before I construct notional concepts of failure.

  3. anonymous Reply

    I am not sure how or why you (the press) have access to this kind of information before we (the employees) of this work know and have to find out via this – if this is true, this is disgusting on so many levels. It is so shortsighted and hundreds of young people will loose out on vital work happening in the city via these projects. Literally life saving young people – eg suicide prevention work, support on reducing self harm, anxiety mangement, risk taking, offending, drug and alcohol misuse, homelessness, to name just a few issues we deal with each and every week. We also now loose our jobs too. Another symptom of the bloody Conservatives and their short sighted agenda. Disgusting.

    • Aaron Checksfield Reply

      this is similar to what has happend to the guys up in Norfolk and they are struggling as well many other youth orginasations in the country

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  5. Aaron Checksfield Reply

    All youth work helps many young people on diffrent levels such as offering help and advice in a friendly enviorment , many young people would be worse off and they help many young peole to stay out of trouble so please don’t get ride of them, we need to keep them going the all offer different types of work which is all valuable

  6. Jan Cosgrove Reply

    Councillor Bewick needs to gets his facts rights. Youth Service provision is a statutory obligation on the Local Education Authority under s508 and s507b of the Education Act 1996 (amended 2006), and s508(3) etc make it also a duty to look at provision via voluntary organisations.

    Here is information from Fair Play for Children:

    We also have recently received the following Freedom of Information reply:

    Councils have been getting away with massive cuts in youth funding, well beyond the levels to most services. This is a cynical exploitation of the weak position of young people in our society. s507b also requires the council to consult young people, and appeal court cases suggest this cannot be the usual tokenism

    I urge young people and their organisations to tell the Cabinet Member to think again. Hand-wringing at the Council will hardly justify such cuts when, in the future, the bill starts to mount up as a result of the absence of these services.

  7. Jack stanford Reply

    If you get rid of the entire youth service in Brighton and Hove, which is essentially what the council is proposing then it deserve everything it gets…. The devastating effect it will have on so many venerable young people throughout the city would be massive. Everyone should be aware that to remove a service entirely will cost more money to put it back when they realise that they need a youth service. It’ll put a massive strain on other services throughout the city. I can’t help but feel this is a completely uninformed decision. #protectyouthservices

  8. Jan Cosgrove Reply

    I have now sent the following email to Cllr Bewick:

    “Dear Councillor Bewick

    I read a quote attributed to you in the linked article:

    You will see my comment whose links I also reproduce here:

    LEA Youth Provision Obligations 1996 Education Act ns508/507b

    Freedom of Information – Youth provision IS statutory

    I would urge you to look at your budgetary proposals in the light of this information, and would note the vulnerability of the Council to legal challenge, in particular re meaningful consultation with young people, an area that has seen budgetary decisions rendered unlawful on appeal.

    I hope this is helpful.

    Jan Cosgrove
    National Secretary
    Fair Play for Children”

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