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An ambitious new approach to tackling youth violence in Lambeth is set to be agreed by cabinet tonight

The council and partners have committed to a simple vision, that - "Young people in Lambeth should be free from violence" - for this generation and the next.

The outline strategy already agreed by statutory and community partners will mean reducing serious youth violence becomes a collective priority in terms of resource, outcomes and most importantly seeks brighter futures for children who would otherwise have been victims or perpetrators of violence.


Last year in London there were 12,074 knife crime incidents, up from just over 9,000 the year before and 24 teenagers lost their lives in stabbings or shooting incidents. On new year's eve, whilst millions were celebrating the onset of 2018, a young boy lost his life to mindless violence on a Lambeth street.

Led by Cllr Mohammed Seedat, Lambeth Council’s response aims to “coordinate the work and investment of statutory agencies and the community. It will be led by the community, and focus not just on the immediate crisis but more importantly how we prevent the next generation of young people from becoming involved. This is an ambitious vision which will take many years to fully materialise. But this first step must be taken.”

The issue of serious youth violence is particularly acute in Lambeth, which suffered 7,000 crimes over a ten year period - the highest volume in London.

One of the core aims of the outline strategy is to improve coordination and collaboration between the multitude of agencies and community groups who deal with the effects of youth crime. For the first time, all council departments will be brought round the same table as the police, Safer Neighbourhood Board, the Young Lambeth Co-op and health groups such as Black Thrive. The aim to collaborate systematically and share better intelligence will result in safer Lambeth communities.

Underpinning all of this will be the adoption of a ‘public health approach’ - at its most basic interpretation this is treating violence as an illness that can be cured if the tell-tale signs are detected early enough and then acted upon.

For example, a 2014 study suggested 91% of all sentenced children present in a Youth Offending Service had suffered childhood trauma in the form of loss or abuse [pdf].

That is why the outline strategy seeks to complement the investment already undertaken by Lambeth Council: in supporting women fleeing domestic violence, working with families of girls at risk of grooming (child sexual exploitation), rehabilitating women offenders [pdf], investing £12 million per year in the broad range of mental health services provided by the innovative Living Well Network Alliance and ensuring Lambeth’s 23 children’s centres remain open (and well used) so all Lambeth children can have the best start in life.

It also means looking at ways to curb the influence of peer groups as well as tackling ‘socio-health’ factors including the prevalence of poverty and deprivation when considering which children are likely to be involved in criminality.

Given the prevalence of youth violence on council & housing association estates, a further aspect of Lambeth’s plan will be the development of ‘estate-based local plans’. Working with residents and housing organisations, bespoke action plans for each estate where violence has been identified as a concern will be drawn up.

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick has endorsed this approach, arguing that “this is something that goes beyond the Home Office, way beyond policing. It is a public health issue, it’s an epidemic.”

So too has local MP Chuka Umunna who said: “This is an issue which the whole of our society needs to tackle - not just as a criminal justice issue but also one of mental health, community cohesion and social integration.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has also recognised the importance of working with communities to intervene early in a child's life. His recently announced "Young Londoners Fund" will support education, sport and cultural activities targeted at disadvantaged and vulnerable young people.

Drawing on the success of the Gang Violence Reduction Unit in Glasgow, whose public health approach helped halve violent offending amongst those taking part, councillors hope this will be the first steps in realising the vision set out on the first line of the strategy that “Young people in Lambeth should be free of violence”.

Tackling youth violence

An ambitious new approach to tackling youth violence in Lambeth is set to be agreed by cabinet tonight

Lambeth schools are set to lose an average of £400 per pupil from next year. Cllr Claire Holland says it's vital that we continue to fight Tory education cuts:

Last year, we worked with parents, teachers and local trade unions to oppose huge Tory cuts to Lambeth’s schools. Many parents were extremely concerned about the potential loss of hundreds of thousands of pounds from the budget of their child’s school, due to the Conservative government’s plans to cut funding for Lambeth schools by £24 million.

Sign the petition - protect Lambeth's schools

Lambeth Labour councillors joined hundreds of parents, teachers and local residents at a public meeting at Sunnyhill Primary school last March against these cuts. The Leader of Lambeth Council Cllr Lib Peck spoke at the meeting alongside local MP Helen Hayes, representatives from trade unions and local parents to make clear that we completely oppose cuts to our children’s education.

Over 1000 Lambeth residents signed our petition against the cuts and we spoke to thousands of people on the doorstep across the borough to raise awareness of the cuts. The council submitted detailed responses to the government’s consultations about the cuts and we lobbied the government to think again.


After that extensive campaign, replicated across the country and following significant opposition to the Conservatives during the 2017 General Election as a result of these plans, the Conservative government backed down slightly. 

However, the extra funding announced in July was money taken from elsewhere in the education budget and it has soon become clear that it won’t allow schools to even standstill when ongoing cost pressures and inflation are taken into account.

Indeed, just this week the schools minister was rebuked by the National Statistics Authority for claiming to Parliament that school funding was rising when they have effectively frozen it at a time when schools’ costs continue to rise. It’s a trick we’ve seen Lambeth Conservatives try to pull as well, as they desperately hope that local people won’t realise that a vote for them is a vote for cuts to their local school.

Parents are right to be concerned – independent research on the School Cuts website estimates that Lambeth schools will lose approximately £14 million by 2019/20 – a cut in funding per pupil on average of over £400. Paxton Primary school in Gipsy Hill is estimated to lose £248,000, Bishop Thomas Grant Secondary school is expected to lose £431,000 and Sunny Hill Primary School (where the campaign meeting against these cuts was held last year) is estimated to lose £258,000.

Parents are rightly very concerned and the parent-led Fair Funding for Schools campaign has organised a national day of action with schools next week on 22nd March. We fully support this and we have written to Lambeth schools to set out our concerns about the funding picture.

We will work with parents and teachers to oppose these cuts, which could jeopardise the hard- earned, fantastic improvements that Lambeth schools have made in recent years. If you haven’t already, please sign our petition to oppose these cuts.

Labour believes that our children need investment in their education, not cuts. Sadly, that isn’t a view shared by the Tories in Westminster or in Lambeth. Indeed, the leader of Lambeth Tories criticised parents last year who campaigned against the cuts and their party is fully supportive of taking money away from Lambeth schools.

On 3rd May, residents can vote against Conservative cuts to local schools and for a Labour council which will continue to fight for our children’s education.

Cllr Claire Holland


The threat to Lambeth's schools has not gone away

Lambeth schools are set to lose an average of £400 per pupil from next year. Cllr Claire Holland says it's vital that we continue to fight Tory education cuts: Last...

Helping residents to become more financially resilient is a key part of our approach for a better, fairer Lambeth

As a Labour administration, our commitment to ambition and fairness for all sets us apart from a Tory government that is waging an ideological attack on local government and the most vulnerable in our communities. This is particularly true in relation to benefit cuts, where our residents have been subjected to a dramatic set of reforms to the welfare benefits system driven through by the Conservative government. While no one would argue getting people into work isn't a good thing for society, we in Lambeth fundamentally disagree with the Tories’ wholesale attack on people in receipt of benefits. 

The changes have meant huge cuts in benefits, inadequate support and an increasing refusal to listen to the evidence, particularly as we have seen with the roll-out of universal credit. All of that has created a cruel and unfair system that has forced many people into difficulties and is making the lives of many of our residents worse. Many of them have faced the impact of cuts to their benefits, the introduction of the bedroom tax, the threat of the tenant tax and the arrival of a flawed universal credit system in just a few years.

In the face of that, we have tried as a local council to use our powers, our networks and some funding (despite the 56% cut in our funding from the Tories) to target support at those residents who most need it. The details of this work are set out in a paper to be considered by Lambeth’s cabinet which sets out how we’ve established a relief fund to help struggling families pay their bills and to provide debt and benefits advice services.

In particular, they show that:

  • We’ve helped over 56,000 residents since 2014 to resolve financial problems, develop budgeting skills, and increase their incomes
  • Since 2014 we’ve supported over 400 long term unemployed people into jobs and in total 2,000 people have been helped move towards work, better jobs or a new career.
  • We provided advice on benefits, debt, housing and other issues to 14,900 people last year
  • We helped 4198 people access over £13.5 million in benefits income that they were entitled to but hadn’t received in the last 18 months
  • We helped 401 people who were struggling with council tax debt to avoid a court summons last year
  • We ran over 650 sessions last year in children’s centres to provide advice on benefits, housing, money and debt
  • Trained over 500 Money champions who help people in their community to be more confident with budgeting and money management
  • Our digibuddies scheme trained over 1,300 people last year about how to use the internet to access online benefits services, particularly vital now all such services are moving online
  • Over 2,000 families received emergency support for white goods, furniture, fuel or food assistance in 2016/17
  • We helped over 2,200 people struggling with their housing costs in 2016/17
  • We provided council tax exemptions and discounts to almost 30,000 people, including pensioners, carers and disabled people in 2016/17

Many of these shouldn’t have to be provided – but with government benefit cuts, stalling wages and increased use of services like foodbanks, they represent Lambeth’s welfare safety net – our efforts as a Labour council to protect the most vulnerable. They sit alongside our policies around stopping the use of bailiffs for vulnerable people in debt with their council tax and those we use to prevent evictions, where we have helped over 3,000 families to avoid becoming homeless since 2014.


Cllr McGlone gives evidence about our welfare safety net in Parliament in 2015

Unfortunately, the report before Cabinet also sets out our fears that these challenges could get worse, with the full roll-out of Universal Credit in Lambeth.

We’ve lobbied against that system and provided evidence to the government that the pilots of it were causing more arrears, pushing more people into debt and leading to huge delays in people getting the money that they need. But the government refuse to listen.

We’ll continue to make the case against universal credit and continue to help people receive the advice, support and benefits that they need.

And at the local elections on 3rd May, Lambeth residents have an opportunity to send a message to this government about its cruel and ineffective reforms to benefits and to vote for a Labour council that will continue to ensure that we protect our most vulnerable residents.

Councillor Paul McGlone, Deputy Leader of Lambeth council

Helping residents in the face of Tory cuts

Helping residents to become more financially resilient is a key part of our approach for a better, fairer Lambeth As a Labour administration, our commitment to ambition and fairness for...

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