Update on Tuesday, January 24, at 4pm: Funding is promised, in an amended county council budget proposal, to secure the future of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme in East Sussex.
This will be good news for the 6,000 people who signed a petition started by Uckfield’s Daniel Manvell calling for funding to be restored.
The council’s cabinet today supported a savings target of £17million but have identified £1.65 million of additional funding for services and investment. This comes from reducing a contribution to the capital fund.
That money will go towards:
The co-ordination the of Duke of Edinburgh scheme (£29,000)
– organising the election and running of the Youth Cabinet (£41,000)
– providing junior Autistic Spectrum Disorder activity sessions (£52,000)
– Investing a further £1.3million in highways drainage and pavements
– Making a further £150,000 available in the Community Match scheme
In addition, the Cabinet proposes to allocate a one-off payment of £750,000 to schools.
The proposed £365million budget includes savings of £17million, a three per cent adult social care levy agreed by Government and a 1.99 per cent council tax increase – which would result in a total increase to the county council’s precept of 4.99 per cent.
The amount paid for the county’s portion of council tax by homeowners in an average Band D home will increase by more than £60 a year, as expected before today’s meeting.
This will mean a rise from £1,251.90 in 2016/17 to £1,314.36 in 2017/18.
A final decision on the budget will be made by full council on Tuesday, February 7.
Update on Tuesday, January 24, 7am: More than 6,000 people have signed a petition to save the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme in East Sussex.
The petition organiser Daniel Manvell, an Uckfield Duke of Edinburgh Award participant himself, said he would be taking it to County Hall in Lewes today and presenting it to councillors considering budget cuts.
Uckfield county councillor Claire Dowling said she had been lobbying cabinet members in a bid to retain funding for the scheme.
She told Uckfield News: “The benefits of the scheme to young people far outweigh the £25,000 costs. This is something I feel very strongly about and we need to try and get this back into the budget.”
From our original story on January 13:
Daniel Manvell said the county council was taking the decision on whether to end funding for the scheme effective from April 2018.
He told Uckfield News: “I have created a petition to get the word out about this, as there is none currently anywhere online that I could find, to protect DofE as a programme for people of all backgrounds to enjoy and participate in.”
The petition can be found here.
Daniel says in it that he and many other people will be greatly affected by the county council decision having been working towards various levels of the award for upwards of two years.
He says: “DofE provides an enjoyable and fun way for students from all backgrounds to do something new and get out into the countryside, in an era where there are many other distractions for young people.
“It is also a great way to get to know and make new friends, building social skills as well as practical ones throughout he multitude of different objectives participants must achieve in order to get their award.
“In the words of Cllr Nick Bennett, lead member of the council for education and inclusion: ‘I’ve always believed that the best way for young people to advance in life is not just through academic excellence but through developing broad life skills.
“‘Completing the Duke of Edinburgh’s award enables participants to develop new talents, meet new people and give something back to the community.'”
Daniel says the cost to run the scheme by the council is minimal, but the reward is monumental, and that is why he wants to ensure funding of the scheme is secured.
Allan Strong who runs the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme in Uckfield has circulated information about the threat to it.
Reasons given for supporting the scheme include:
- The relatively modest investment by ESCC to support the personal development of young people throughout East Sussex. If ESCC does cease its support for DofE from April 2018, the net saving to ESCC in 2018 / 2019 will be £25,000.
- The significant value in staff and volunteer time that is ‘levered’ by ESCC’s investment. A recent survey by one local association indicated that the total value may be as high as £142,000 each year.
- “Achievable by All” – DofE is one of the few nationally accredited personal development programmes that can be achieved by any young person who wants to take on the challenge, irrespective of their background, ability or gender. Currently participating in DofE in East Sussex are young people with learning difficulties and others with physical and sensory disabilities; looked-after and fostered children; young people from single parent and low-income families, and others living in areas of high deprivation. All participate on an equal basis with their friends and peers. They have the opportunity to integrate with others; and not be singled out, made to feel different, or “labelled”. And to achieve a DofE award on exactly the same basis as millions of others have over the past 60 years.
There’s more here about budget cuts being considered by the county council: Homeowners could face average £60 county council tax rise.