Work with young offenders hit by extra cut in ministry grant

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ROUGH justice has been dispensed by the Ministry of Justice for work with young offenders in West Sussex, it emerged at a County Hall meeting.

The children and young people’s services select committee heard the ministry had just announced its grant support for the county’s youth offending service in 2011-12 would be cut by 21 per cent, rather than the 15 per cent which had been expected. This meant a reduction of £228,000.

A committee report said the impact of reduced funding on the service would be considered, following the announcement.

“It is likely this will result in further reductions within the youth offending team,” it warned.

Director of children’s services, Stuart Gallimore, said the maintenance of the shape of youth services, and the ability for people to access them, remained really important.

Losing money

Specific projects were trying to ensure that young people did not become involved in anti-social behaviour and progress into crime.

“We will keep this under review and, as new data becomes available, we will look at the impact,” he added.

Councillor David Simmons said he was very conscious the county was losing more money than it expected from the ministry.

He questioned what pressures this would put on West Sussex, and what the implications were.

Carole Aspden, principal manager of youth services, said specialist interventions which made the most difference were the ones they would try to fund in the future.

“We have been able to be more efficient in terms of management and support functions, so we can make sure priorities are for the most vulnerable young people,” she added.

Savings

Mr Gallimore also told the committee that the expectation placed on the county youth service as a whole to realise £2million savings had been achieved.

“I am proud of how staff have responded to the challenges. It has been really difficult for people,” he said.

“We have asked them to continue providing a high-quality service at the same time as there has been uncertainty over their own roles.”

He added they would need to continue to work and engage with voluntary and community groups within the county in terms of looking how progress could be made with services for young people.