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Youth services suffer ‘stealth cut’ of more than £400m, Labour claims

youth services

Youth services suffer ‘stealth cut’ of more than £400m, Labour claims

Last week’s budget included a stealth cut to funding for youth services worth more than £400m over the next three years, Labour has claimed.

In his budget speech last Wednesday, Rishi Sunak said: “as we level up public services, we’re also levelling up communities – restoring the pride people feel in the places they call home.

“To do that, we’re providing £560m for youth services, enough to fund up to 300 youth clubs across the country.”

However, the Conservatives had already promised a £500m Youth Investment Fund in 2019; and the National Citizen Service, which provides young people with volunteering opportunities, has received an average of £178m over the past three years, according to Labour analysis.

If the NCS continued to be funded at that level, and the £500m Youth Investment Fund was additional money, that would total more than £1bn over the next three years – almost twice Sunak’s announced figure.

Separately, analysis by the House of Commons library carried out for Labour shows that public spending on services for young people in England has been cut by two-thirds in real terms over the past 10 years.

Shadow minister for young people, Cat Smith, said: “with Conservative cuts year on year, it is no surprise we’ve seen a rise of anti-social behaviour alongside the huge challenge of violent crime and county lines. Youth services prevent serious youth violence that costs taxpayers and ruins young people’s lives.”

“Given how much has been stripped away from youth services over the last decade by the Conservatives, this disguised cut from the government is likely to force many grassroots youth organisations to close.”

As MPs continued to debate the budget in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Labour MPs accused Sunak of failing to make up for more than a decade of austerity – comparing his promise of new “family hubs,” to the more than 500 Sure Start centres scrapped since 2010, for example.

A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport conceded that the £560m promised by Sunak would include the cost of running the pre-existing NCS, which was set up by David Cameron.

“We are determined to give every child the best start in life and level up opportunity across the country,” they said. “Last week we announced plans to invest £560m to make sure youth services get the support they need. This includes funding the construction or refurbishment of up to 300 youth facilities in the most deprived areas of the country, and supporting the running of the NCS over the next three years.”

The spokesperson also pointed to almost £5bn set aside for helping school pupils catch up with lost learning in the wake of the pandemic – though that is significantly less than was recommended by the government’s own adviser on the issue, , who quit in protest.

Sunak’s third budget included a slew of spending promises, as the Conservatives seek to live up to their promise to “level up” neglected parts of the UK; but he also held out the prospect of tax cuts in the run-up to the next election.

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Ondo Govt reacts to court judgement declaring new LCDAs ‘illegal’

The Ondo State Government says necessary legal action will be taken on the judgement nullifying the creation of the 33 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the state.

The government’s reaction is contained in a statement by the Attorney General of Ondo State, Mr Kayode Ajulo SAN, made available to  newsmen on Friday in Akure.

Justice A.O Adebusuoye of the state High Court had in a judgement on Thursday described the creation of the LCDAs as unlawful.

The court said it was illegal for a governor to sign a law outside the State.

The court said that the Local Government Creation Law 2023 signed by the late Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in Ibadan was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.

The statement said the government has taken cognizance of Ondo State High Court’s judgement and had requested for a Certified True Copy of it.

Ajulo said after it was studied and analysed, a legal opinion would be presented to the state government.

“Subsequently, all necessary measures, in accordance with our laws, will be taken to safeguard the interests of our citizens, foster peaceful coexistence, and uphold the rule of law.

“The Attorney General remains steadfast in his commitment to prioritizing the well-being and welfare of our citizens, working tirelessly to ensure that justice and the law are served,” the statement said.

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LASTMA impounds 40 vehicles in Oyingbo, ijora, idumota axis

The  Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has impounded another 25 commercial and 15 private vehicles operating illegal garages and causing serious road obstructions around Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota areas of  Lagos.

Mr Taofiq Adebayo, Director, Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA, said this in a statement on Friday in Lagos.

Adebayo said impounding the vehicles at these areas was a decisive move by LASTMA to restore order and ensure the free flow of traffic.

He said the operation was led by LASTMA Head of Enforcement, Mr Kayode Odunuga, under the directives of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr Sola Giwa.

Adebayo that they were specifically directed to target illegal garages that had been a persistent source of congestion and inconvenience for residents and commuters.

He said the impoundment, which began in recent weeks, was part of a broader initiative by the  Lagos State Government to enhance the efficiency of the city’s transportation network.

He quoted Giwa as emphasising that government is committed to maintaining law and order on the roads, ensuring that all traffic regulations are strictly enforced.

“illegal garages have been a significant challenge in our quest to maintain a seamless traffic flow in Lagos.

“These impoundments send a strong message to all offenders that the state will not tolerate activities that disrupt public order and endanger the lives of our citizens.

“Our goal is to create a safe and orderly environment for all road users and this action is a crucial step in that direction,” Giwa said.

He noted that the targeted areas, Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota, are known hotspots for traffic congestion due to unauthorised parking and the establishment of makeshift garages.

He said that these activities not only obstruct the free movement of vehicles but also pose safety risks to pedestrians.

“LASTMA’s intervention aims to clear these bottlenecks and enhance the overall traffic situation in these critical areas.

“Residents and business owners have expressed their support for the government’s action, noting the positive impact it will have on their daily activities.

“LASTMA has also assured the public that the operation will be sustained and extended to other parts of the city where illegal garages and related activities are prevalent,” he quoted Giwa as saying.

He urged all vehicle owners and operators to adhere to the state’s traffic regulations and cooperate with authorities to avoid sanctions.

He reiterated that the government’s primary objective was to create a better and more livable Lagos for everyone.

He also urged motorists to take ownership of the roads and to promptly inform LASTMA of any broken down or abandoned trailers or trucks via the Agency’s hotlines: 0810056586008129928503.

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Emir of Ilorin commiserates with Saraki over mother’s death

Nigeria in very bad shape, only PDP can rebuild it —Saraki

Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, has commiserated with a former Senate President,  Dr Bukola Saraki, over the death of his mother, Mrs Florence Saraki.

This is contained in a condolence message issued by the emir’s Spokesman, Mallam Abdulazeez Arowona, on Wednesday in Ilorin.

Mrs Saraki died on Tuesday at the age of 89.

Sulu-Gambari described the deceased as a wonderful mother, great philanthropist and virtuous wife to  Dr Olusola Saraki, the late Waziri of Ilorin, whose contributions to humanity would forever be remembered.

According to him, the deceased lived a fulfilled life, with numerous accomplishments.

The royal father urged Saraki, a two-term governor of Kwara, and his siblings to be strong in heart over the demise of their beloved mother.

Sulu-Gambari, who is also the Chairman of Kwara Traditional Rulers’ Council, extended his condolences to both the immediate and extended family members of the Saraki dynasty.

“I pray that Almighty Allah grants the family and friends the fortitude to bear the great loss,” he said.

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