East Sussex County Council expects the number of young people not in education, employment or training – the so-called NEETs – to rise after government funding cutbacks forced it to reduce funding for a range of services.
The county is facing £8.4m of funding cuts, including £2.4m from children’s services and £2m in transport and environment spending.
The impact of the children’s services budget cut is wide-ranging. NEETs are seen as being at greatest risk of deprivation and crime, but the council’s Local Area Agreement (LAA) award grant to help get them into education or work has been halved.
In a report on the impact of the funding cuts, the council warns what the reduction in LAA grant means: “No development of premises to enable young people to access information, guidance and support. Reduction in projects for NEETs or young people at risk of NEET.”
Analysing the impact of this cut, the council simply states: “Increase in number of NEETs”.
But this isn’t the only cut facing East Sussex that the council expects to increase the number of NEETs. The council is cutting nearly 10 percent of funding for its Connexions service, which provides leisure spaces and advice for young people. Again, the council warns: “Risk of increase in NEETs, reduced capacity to support raising young people’s expectations for themselves.”
The budget for the V Volunteering service – which provides volunteering opportunities locally – is being cut by 25 percent, in a move the council expects to reduce volunteering opportunities for young people who are NEET or at risk of becoming NEETs.
Funding for Key Stage 4 pupils seen as at risk of underachievement is being cut by around a quarter, while a 10 percent cut to a school development grant will reduce support for pupils vulnerable to underachievement in Hastings.
A number of transport schemes are being axed or delayed, while work on domestic violence and offender management is also expected to suffer from cutbacks in Home Office funding streams.
Perhaps most tellingly, a 50 percent cut in funding for the Volunteer Steering Group means the council has had to abandon grants to volunteer involving organisations (ViOs), a means of improving the management and capacity of volunteering projects.
As the council says: “The fund was plugging a funding gap for ViOs as there is little or no funding available for this type of activity as it is not directly related to service delivery.”
NEETs up, volunteering down. Whither the Big Society?