Young people will be hit hard by county cuts

Helen Burton SUS-150709-171138001
Helen Burton SUS-150709-171138001

Last week I was very pleased when one of my readers contacted me to say that having read my column on the proposed adult social care cuts she had created a petition against them.

She asks ESCC to rethink the cuts and negotiate with central government. It is a very well worded petition so if you are as appalled by the proposed cuts as I am Jane Caygill’s petition can be signed online at http://epetition.eastsussex.public-i.tv/epetition_core/view/community

One of the things that concerns me most about the proposed cuts is the reduction in services to young people, and the fact that if the cuts are made then the Eastbourne Foyer is likely to close. The Eastbourne Foyer is a 41 bed home for homeless young people. My background is in youth work and I worked for several years at a project which worked directly with homeless young people so I know what an impact this will have.

Youth homelessness is a complicated social issue and can have many causes. Family breakdowns, addiction, abuse, mental health problems or a combination of these factors can all lead to young people becoming homeless, but their age and inherent vulnerability means they need more support not less. Unlike adults they can’t hold tenancies until they are 18, and landlords are hesitant to rent to young people so less accommodation is available to them. This results in ‘sofa surfing’, sleeping in tents and street homelessness. The government’s plans to abolish housing benefit for the under 25s are disastrous enough, if the proposed ESCC cuts of 50 per cent to services for homeless young people are made then what will happen to Eastbourne’s homeless young people? So far this year there have been 230 young people presenting as homeless in East Sussex. There are only 152 beds available across the county so already there is not enough provision for young people. If the cuts are made then it may not just be the Eastbourne Foyer that closes either, there are six Foyer projects in East Sussex. The Eastbourne Foyer always has a waiting list and we need to keep this valuable community asset open. According to Centrepoint, a charity that works with homeless young people, at least 30,000 homeless young people were turned away without any practical support last year as councils in the UK struggle to meet the emergency housing demand. An alternative to cutting services to young people is to invest in them. A report by Communities and Local Government showed that the Supporting People Programme, which pays for The Foyer and a range of accommodation services for different groups, saved a total of 3.41 billion a year, against an overall investment of 1.61 billion. This Supporting People Programme is what ESCC have proposed cutting by 50 per cent. I’m no mathematician but if the Government’s own research says that it is saving money then surely it doesn’t make sense to cut the Supporting People funding? If you agree please sign the petition!