It’s a much trumpeted truism that young people are our future. But all too often it is young people who lose out when cuts are on the horizon. That’s why I’m proud to say that our budget, which we have published today, is a budget for young people.
The council’s government funding has already been cut in half since 2010, and by 2020 we will have lost 70 per cent of our Government funding. That means that we have been forced yet again to make some difficult decisions in this year’s budget.
However, despite these huge cuts, we have taken a decision that we are going to prioritise investing in services for young people. Over the next four years we will be protecting the funding from the council for both universal AND targeted youth services.
We are going to listen to young people and ask them to help us shape youth services that not only match their interests and needs, but are accessible and safe.
Islington’s young people are energetic, vibrant and full of potential, and the overwhelming majority stay clear of trouble and take the right path.
However, we have to recognise that over the last 12 months this Borough has seen a worrying surge in serious youth violence including the tragic deaths Vaso Kakko, Stefan Appleton, and other high profile victims of youth crime in the borough.
The community rightly expect us to take a leadership role in reversing this worrying trend. In response we have introduced a new Youth Crime Strategy and are bringing in a new specialised Gangs Unit and have made big changes to our Youth Offending Service.
We will also continue to support out excellent Targeted Youth Service which provides support to vulnerable young people which is much valued and trusted by young people and their families.
But we have to do more. That’s why I’m delighted to announce we have decided to invest an additional £500k in on a new package of targeted support for young people who may be at risk of being drawn into youth crime, as perpetrators or victims. This new programme will enable us to provide top quality mentors and independent case workers for young people who need it most, building their resilience, providing positive role models and helping them access education training and employment.
We have to take an early intervention approach – identifying vulnerable young people and offering them positive support BEFORE they are drawn into making unhealthy and dangerous choices.
At a time when central government is cutting funding for public services and cutting welfare benefits for families, investing in services for our young people is more important than ever, so all young people in Islington can thrive and achieve their full potential. This lies at the heart of our ambition for a fairer borough.
Cllr Joe Caluori
Executive Member for Children & Families, LB Islington
Labour Member for Mildmay Ward