I attended a briefing by the leader of Surrey County Council, David Hodge, last week on Surrey’s “Spending Power” for 2015 and beyond. It makes grim reading. Everybody I speak to seems to be in agreement that whatever flavour of political party or coalition is in Whitehall after the election there will be significant further cuts to local government budgets. Leaders in Surrey CC have further tough decisions to make on where the axe falls. Not a fun task methinks. So far, Surrey has maintained a much larger spend on youth provision than many other counties, but can it last?
Meanwhile I am increasingly hearing from my voluntary and charity sector colleagues that they are receiving increasingly complex referrals (i.e. clients with a wider range of problems in layman’s terms).
A third bit of news this week is some research reported by the BBC that suggests “Behaviour of boys from poor homes is worse when they grow up with wealthier neighbours”. I am not surprised to hear this, common sense says to me that if you are a teenager sitting in a class full of people with iphones going on skiing holidays it must be harder than sitting in a class full of other people with little money. So, Surrey's young people from poor backgrounds need our support.
A perfect storm of problems? Maybe not, but certainly a pretty bad combination. I believe that a very strategic response is required with a range of players coming together to try to maintain and improve support for the most vulnerable in our society in the face of cuts. I will be working towards this over the coming months. But it won't be easy. Suggestions on a postcard please…