Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee – February 2022

After January’s climate fest, it’s perhaps a surprise to find even one mention of carbon reduction and its impact on climate change at the Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee this month.

Cllr Rahman (Longsight – Deputy Leader) was on tap to introduce the update on families residing in both bed and breakfast accommodation and homeless accommodation, claimed more than a decade of government funding cuts have deliberately damaged our communities, exacerbating homelessness. Population growth in Manchester and insufficient housing supply adds to the problem, so early intervention to prevent homelessness is key. Keeping families together in their communities is a priority and bed and breakfast accommodation is very much a last resort.

Cllr Bridges (Old Moat – Exec Member for Children Services) began discussion of the Children and Education Services Directorate Budget 2022/23, saying the government settlement was better than had been feared, but offers no long-term security as funding is only for a single year. This after more than a decade of brutal cuts. The budget strategy for a number of years has been closely linked to Children Services practice, with money spent to ensure the best outcomes for children and young people. Beyond the paper, Cllr Bridges points to extra spend for youth services and to cover Free School Meals over April holidays. Yet in future years there is likely to be an increasing budget gap. The importance of actions to reduce energy use and carbon emissions in schools was recognised and an increase in the number of condition surveys was welcomed, especially needed to accelerate building improvements in the early years sector.

The Annual Virtual School Head’s Report covered education, employment and training of looked after children aged from two up to twenty-five years, and recent work alongside the Youth Justice Service and with children who have or have had social worker support. Lastly figures given in the written COVID-19 Update showed a steady rise of cases for both children and adults from the end of the first week in December 2021 up to the week ending 21/01/2022. In the last week of data presented, secondary school cases had fallen but were outweighed by a further rise of cases in primary schools. A draft of the Winter Vaccination Plan was also provided. It was stated that rates of infection had fallen by 28% across all age groups in the last seven days. Targeting inequalities across the city remains a priority.

Within the list of future items-yet-to-be-scheduled is an update on wellbeing and mental health and support for schools. Perhaps therein may be scope for a discussion of climate anxiety experienced by children and young people.

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