Brighton campaign reaps rewards – Council to boost youth work spending by £90K

 

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Pre-Qual on the streets of Brighton a year ago

 

Almost exactly a year ago we were congratulating the Brighton ‘Protect Youth Services’ campaign on its creative and successful defence of youth provision in the town. In the aftermath the Pre-Qual group in a thoughtful and challenging blog concluded:

If this campaign to protect youth services has proved one thing, it is that when you organise around a demand which is achievable, have an argument which is strong enough and you pursue that argument with enough persistence and a great enough diversity of tactics, you can achieve concrete success. These were the key elements which won the youth service campaign; saving the service was realistically achievable, the arguments were solid and we simply did not leave the council alone, pursuing every possible avenue available to us, from getting out onto the streets to legally challenging the consultation process. By following this formula we believe that we can be successful in fighting off the cuts again next year, but we can’t do it on our own: we need your help.

It certainly looks as if this advice was taken on board. Indeed CYPN reports, Council to boost youth work spending by £90K :

Proposals set to be considered by members of Brighton and Hove Council next Thursday (22 February) will see the extra money handed to local youth work providers.

A “cross party youth group”, set up in Brighton last year to bring politicians and young people together, will decide how the additional funding should be spent.

“The £90k proposal will be discussed at the next cross party youth group, which includes representatives from the three political groups and from various youth groups across the city,” a council spokesman said.

“It is this group which will be recommending how this additional money should be prioritised.”

 

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Adam looking chuffed

 

Adam Muirhead, chair of the Institute for Youth Work and local youth worker, who will be speaking at our IDYW national conference on March 9,  has welcomed Brighton and Hove’s decision to buck the national trend of continuing cuts. Interestingly at least part of the reason for the exceptional nature of the decision might well lie in the fact that the town’s politics are volatile and contested – Labour, Greens and Tories vying for influence and power. None of them can afford to be smug and indifferent to the views of their public, including young people, so often ignored.

“Local politicians from across different parties in Brighton and Hove have really tried to listen to young people,” Adam suggests.

“They have then put their money where their mouth is by being supportive of young people, empowering them and protective of youth services.”

The £90,000 extra spend on youth work is part of a package of additional funding, worth £460,000, to improve support for young people in Brighton and Hove.

It’s good to begin a week with uplifting news. Sending our thanks and solidarity to the young people and youth workers of Brighton, who’ve continued the fight so capably.

Brighton and Hove’s Youth Services Survive – Blog from Preventing Inequality

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The Pre-Qual Group report from a victorious Brighton and Hove.

Our latest blog post, reflecting on the successful campaign to #protectyouthservices and how we can move forward and build on our momentum.

It begins:

Before we go anywhere in terms of analysing the result of the council’s budget meeting on February the 23rd and discussing how we can move forward, we just want to say well f****** done everybody!!! We all absolutely smashed this campaign, and youth services will survive another year!!!

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It continues:

It is incredibly important that we ask where this money which has been put back into the budget has come from. Most of it will be coming from the Housing Revenue Account, on the basis that those living in council estates are those most likely to benefit from properly funded youth services. The Housing Revenue Account records all revenue expenditure and income from council controlled housing and other services and is essentially a fund to be spent only on housing related services. Given the dire state of much council accommodation in the city (check out ETHRAG, Brighton Housing Coalition and Brighton SolFed for more information on current housing campaigns in the city) it is clear that any money which is diverted from the HRA will limit the council’s ability to deal with the poor conditions rife in council housing and flats. Although the residents of council estates will see a benefit from youth services in terms of things such as the wellbeing of young people, reduced crime and homelessness, a reduction in the HRA will likely have a negative impact on the conditions of the places they live. The issues addressed by youth services are not the same as those addressed by the HRA and as such to say the benefits of one can replace the benefits of the other is simply wrong.

and

At the start of the campaign we called for the council to declare a “no cuts” budget. This is an action for which there is precedent, where the council refuses to set a budget within the funding limits set by central government. Our reasoning for this call was that the proposed cuts in the budget would be unavoidably devastating for many, if not all, of the residents of our city, with cuts going through across the board, from temporary and emergency accommodation to support for disabled adults. We believe these cuts to be shortsighted both economically and socially, and hoped that the proposed cuts to youth services might best illustrate the massive cost to our city of the Conservative government’s enforced cuts to Local Authorities. Fundamentally, we did not believe that any service that provides for the most vulnerable in our communities is more deserving of funding than another, so it would be unfair to take money from one service to fund another. Unfortunately, this call for “no cuts” quickly died as the reality of the situation dictated that such a budget would not occur, and the best we could hope for was mitigating the effects of the proposed cuts to youth services. However, this should be seen as the beginning, not the end, of calls for a “no cuts” budget.

It concludes:

Building a movement

Finally, we believe it is absolutely vital that we begin our planning and our campaigning against cuts to council services as early as possible. One thing which we have taken as a key lesson from the campaign to protect youth services is that by simply reacting to decisions we automatically put ourselves at a disadvantage. Campaigners have maintained this reactive attitude for for too long, merely responding to the latest attack on ordinary people by the political establishment. Instead we must be proactive in building a movement to defend our interests. When the proposed cuts were announced, we found ourselves in a position where we had only a couple of months to put together an effective campaign. By beginning our preparations now and building a strong coalition of groups opposed to cuts across the city we might be able to stop the cuts altogether next year, with a strong ground campaign engaging residents in the issues to gain mass support and building a strong enough case for a “no cuts” budget that the council cannot ignore it. As such, we call on every group which has fought cuts to any and all services to join us in building a movement to end the violent cycle of cuts which are destroying our city and the lives of its residents.

If this campaign to protect youth services has proved one thing, it is that when you organise around a demand which is achievable, have an argument which is strong enough and you pursue that argument with enough persistence and a great enough diversity of tactics, you can achieve concrete success. These were the key elements which won the youth service campaign; saving the service was realistically achievable, the arguments were solid and we simply did not leave the council alone, pursuing every possible avenue available to us, from getting out onto the streets to legally challenging the consultation process. By following this formula we believe that we can be successful in fighting off the cuts again next year, but we can’t do it on our own: we need your help.

Read this challenging and self-critical account  in full at Brighton and Hove’s Youth Services Survive