Cuts are necessary

WITH reference to Jan Cosgrove’s letter about youth service cuts (Observer, November 17), I am surprised he has chosen to write to the press describing the recent consultation as a sham. It was very widely publicised and I am confident that the Number 18 Project was aware of it and how to take part.

I think it is important to stress again to your readers the background to the very difficult decision I have to take on reducing the youth services budget by a further £2m. The county council is facing the worst financial situation in its history, and we have no alternative but to reduce our spending by £79m over a three-year period.

This means we have had to make some hard choices. It is quite wrong of Mr Cosgrove to suggest we are cutting youth services ‘to comply with the wishes of central government masters’ or that we are ‘butchering’ the service.

The cabinet has stressed throughout that it will do its utmost to protect the most vulnerable people in West Sussex.

In terms of youth services, we are doing just that by re-designing the service to concentrate its future budget on our most vulnerable young people.

I am actually excited about the new service model for a Youth Support and Development Service and its combination of early intervention and prevention work with young people who are most at risk. West Sussex will be concentrating on the targeted support such as working with young people not in education, employment or training (known as NEETs), and specialist services to prevent offending or re-offending. But we have to face some harsh economic facts, and simply cannot afford to continue with the old model of providing them across the county.

Peter Evans,

Cabinet member for Children and Families