Evidence has emerged of the severe impact government funding cuts are having on key youth services targeted at the most vulnerable young people.
An investigation by trade publication Children & Young People Now found that the Connexions service, which provides careers advice and guidance, particularly targeted towards those not in education, employment or training (NEET), was suffering cutbacks around the country after the government cut area based grants that help fund it.
A survey conducted by the magazine found that more than one in ten Connexions services face budget cuts of up to 50 percent, with one in seven warning they faced budget cuts of at least £2m. High street Connexions centres and guidance in schools are seen as being at particular risk.
Regular readers of A Thousand Cuts will be familiar with the procession of cuts to Connexions services across the country:
And now it emerges that the ‘Big Society’ council of Windsor and Maidenhead is planning to cut its Connexions budget by £375,000.
Meanwhile, there was a (rare) flurry of interest at the House of Commons’ Education Select Committee as the head of the agency set up to oversee the national schoolbuilding programme said that Michael Gove’s team ignored warnings to check the list of affected schemes before it was published.
Education Secretary Gove infamously had to publish five different versions of the list, showing how school redevelopment projects were affected by his decision to cancel the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, after initial versions were riddled with errors.
Gove tried to put the blame on Partnerships for Schools (PfS), the quango that runs the BSF programme, but PfS chief executive Tim Byles told MPs yesterday: “We advised the Department that it would be wise to validate this information with each local authority, prior to publication, due to the inherent risk of errors. This advice was not followed and a number of errors arose.”
Byles accepted the blame for one error – where schools in Sandwell were wrongly told their schemes would go ahead – but warned that a number of local authorities and construction firms are preparing to sue the government over losses incurred by the decision to axe BSF.
Finally, a think tank has recommended scaling back renewal of Britain’s nuclear deterrent in order to reduce costs.
The Royal United Services Institute – which generally takes a pro-military stance – said that in renewing Trident, the government should consider dropping the requirement to always have a nuclear sub on patrol at sea.
Trident renewal – viewed by critics as an expensive Cold War anachronism – is currently facing budget pressures as the Ministry of Defence faces potential 10-20 percent budget cuts.