Councillors slam “brutal” cuts to youth services

11 Dec 2023
Young People

Brutal cuts to youth services will severely affect deprived children in Hertfordshire, say Lib Dem opposition councillors.


Conservative county council leaders this week slashed funding by 12% - £1 million.


Six youth centres will close, alongside drastic cuts for a flagship scheme providing activities and healthy food for hard-up kids.


Hertfordshire’s Holiday Activity and Food Programme - known as HAPpy - organises camps during school holidays for pupils who qualify for free meals. 


It will now have its budget reduced by 25%.


A separate project for out-of-school young people’s work activities will also lose a quarter of its funding.


The cuts follow a £16 million overspend by council leaders, who’ve been criticised for financial mismanagement. It comes just weeks after a damning report by Ofsted on Hertfordshire’s failing SEND provision.


Cllr Mark Watkin, Lib Dem opposition spokesperson for education said: 


“I am shocked at the savagery of these cuts, particularly those which affect our most deprived and vulnerable young people.


“The Conservative administration promised the HAPpy scheme was their way of delivering vitally-needed free school meals during the holidays.


“But their cynical slashing of funding will now cause real hardship for families on benefits, struggling to feed their children at a time of devastating food inflation.


“Meanwhile, the closure of six youth centres will deprive our young people of badly-needed recreation and opportunities.


“Just as concerning, the council is also hiking the prices it charges schools for important services, including career guidance, personal development and work-related learning.


“With Hertfordshire’s schools facing massive financial pressures, many will be forced to scrap this provision altogether.


“The root cause is a shambolic Conservative leadership who’ve lost control of council finances. And it’s our children who’ll pay the price”.

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