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Kent County Council poised to axe youth services to save cash

Young people performing
Services include music, sports, youth clubs, arts and drama clubs, and street-based activities such as skateboarding

Funding could end for some youth services in Kent as the county council looks to save £913,000.

Kent's children's committee has agreed to end commissioned youth services - where outside organisations provide activities - from April 2024.

In a public consultation, 27% of people said it would mean young people would miss out on socialising, mixing and building confidence in making friends.

The move still needs approval from Kent County Council's cabinet.

Documents said the council currently had 12 in-house youth hubs, and seven other providers were running services including music, sports, youth clubs, arts and drama clubs, and street-based activities such as skateboarding.

A report said: "In ceasing these contracts, the council recognises that commissioned activities and clubs may stop or reduce unless the organisations are able to find alternative funding."

But it said a wide range of activities would remain available, that in-house provision would continue, and that other services would be signposted.

The report also said the council would provide support for affected groups to make funding applications.

County Hall, Maidstone
Kent County Council is looking to save £913,000 with the move

Chris Norwood, head teacher at Northfleet School for Girls in Gravesend, said the services were important for developing talent and helping with teenagers' mental health.

He said the proposed cuts would lead to limited opportunities for young people to develop what they could become.

Caroline McNally-Johnson, a youth work specialist at Gifted Young Generation, which is based in Gravesham, said it was "devastating".

She said: "There won't be as many activities for young people. There won't be as many opportunities. We work with young people who describe our services as both life-changing and life-saving and that will be taken away."

Kent councillor Sue Chandler, Conservative cabinet member for integrated children's services, said: "We are talking about not continuing some of our commissioned youth services, but we are definitely continuing to deliver in-house youth services. We're changing how we do that through our family hubs.

"But the reason we're looking at this kind of area is because as a council we have to make savings to next year's budget."

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