Back in March I wrote an open letter to David Cameron which considered the cuts to youth services and what the costs of such would be to society in the longer term I’ve inserted a section of this post below.
So what am I saying? We all know cuts are necessary [we can debate 'until the cows come home' as to whose fault it actually is], but I’ll resist this. But we do really need to get a grip on what is a sensible cut and what is a short-term saving with a longer term [most likely higher] cost to both society and the public purse.
The cuts have affected Birmingham’s youth services and the many voluntary sector youth services to the point where there will be nothing left but the Scouts [ps the Scouts in the local area doesn't exist and hasn't for some time].
So let’s just take a simple example like St. paul’s Youth Service which works with over 100 young people a week with positive, stimulating activities that change lives. Let’s imagine [oh hang on we don't have to imagine it it's a reality] the service stopped existing. 100 young people [young people who have little life chances in the first place] suddenly have nothing stimulating and positive to do, outside of school [ps many don't attend school either]. Maybe 10% of these young people get so fed up that they do something illegal and get arrested. Low and behold the cost to the public purse has now increased significantly from what it would have costs to keep these services going. And more worrying is we’ve now disengaged the young person even further…
Dear David, the front line is being breached, …. perhaps you could consider where short-term cost cuts will not create a longer term expense to society and the public purse.
Now I’m not trying to say that the recent riots were a direct result of the cuts to youth services, but I am saying they contribute. As do the cuts to other services, as do the increases in taxes, as does the introduction of debt to go to university etc. We’ve now come to a point where we are not really offering our young people a future at least we’re not offering a big proportion of our young people anything to aspire to.
Now I’d love to know the difference in cost between the ‘savings’ that have been made with the cuts to youth services and other essential front line family services vs the costs of the policing effort, the court effort, the prison system’s effort, the compensation that will need to be paid to businesses affected by looting, the rebuilding, the loss of business to others who managed to escape the looting but lost significant trade. I’m certain that this cost will be significantly greater than the ‘savings’ that were made and therefore it’s cost us more cash.
Now add this cash cost to the society cost and I think we would all agree it’s time for something different to be considered.
Now let’s consider this:
We start investing in positive youth provision and give young people hope.
We start paying people to work rather than paying them to be unemployed
We stop suggesting that evicting a family because one of them did wrong [and will be punished by the courts] is the right thing to do [consider what this means with the knock on domino effect]. More disengaged people, who have less to thank society or Government for for starters!
We stop cutting the lifeline to all the VCO’s and Social enterprises that are changing people’s lives every day of the week.
We start investing in our future!
Now there’s a thought.