Saving £s council finds a few pennies for Westton and Worle youth
By Prue_Reid | Thursday, October 25, 2012, 14:40
With North Somerset Council tasked with saving more than £86 million by 2018 it looks like they are throwing some loose change at what was its youth service.
But its peanuts when you realise it cut the youth budget by £14.4 million for this financial year and many parish and town councils have had to step in and try to bridge the gap.
It lost a further £65,000 defending a legal challenge to these cuts but has now released details of a redistribution of wealth by giving nearly £300,000 out as 'innovation funding' youth awards.
This money has been awarded to 11 networks covering North Somerset to enable them to commission positive activities for young people.
North Somerset Council executive member for children and young people's services Jeremy Blatchford said: "This series of networks will deliver sustainable, positive activities for children and young people.
"It is a departure from the 'one size fits all' approach previously adopted and already we are seeing the benefits with a much wider range of activities being offered and a much greater take up by the young people these activities are aimed at."
The Nailsea councillor said the 'enabling grants' from the council totalling £75,000 had already been distributed to youth management committees which had helped them in the planning and the transition to the positive activity network model.
Mr Blatchford said: "These local commissioning networks have demonstrated how they will implement their local programme and shown that it is viable; what is very important is that by setting up these networks they can respond to the needs of many of the 19,200 young people who found the previous youth service arrangements didn't work for them; setting up something new responds to local needs and involves children and young people."
A 'positive activity provider forum' has also been set up and already more than 30 organisations which deliver activities are members.
And North Somerset Youth Parliament has been getting in on the act too.
They put together a survey which was sent to every secondary school in the district to find out which facilities and activities young people would like to be accessible most, and when, where and how they would like these to be delivered.
Mr Blatchford said that the targeted service which works with the most vulnerable young people, those at risk of offending, as well as disabled and special needs groups, would continue its work.
He added: "The work we are doing will offer a wide range of activities which will be more in tune with our young people."
The funding sums awarded are:
- In The Grove at Weston central £27,700
- 5-25 (Weston South) £28,000
- We Can at Worle and surrounding area £41,000
- COIN at Nailsea £21,500
- Pill and district £29,169
- Portishead £29,250
- South rural £21,500
- Mid rural £27,000
- North rural £17,000
- Clevedon £32,348
- Long Ashton £16,550
No further details on exactly what the money will be spent on is available at this time.
North Somerset Council leader Nigel Ashton believes his district is one of the worse funded local authorities.
Speaking about the latest savings the council is being forced to make Mr Ashton said: "This is the most severe financial challenge the council has ever faced.
"The council has a good track record in making savings while improving its performance and the quality of its performance.
"However the scale of the challenge is significant and it is inevitable that some services will face reductions, possible cessation or closure, or be subject to charges.
"The scale of the challenge means that all services and all budgets will need to be continually reviewed to ensure all opportunities are recognised and delivered."
The cashflow problems are compounded by number of elderly people living in the district which is expected to rise by 30 per cent by 2020, with the cost of adult social care expected to soar.
The growing number of children in care is also contributing to 'significant cost pressures'.
The council is looking at whether it wants to continue with some council tax discounts, such as for vacant dwellings, following the Government's decision to scrap them.
Council chiefs say the authority will continue to streamline its business, re-model services and introduce more self-service for residents to reduce costs,
It will also be looking for local communities to step in and run services once provided by the authority.
The council's workforce is also expected to be reduced by almost 30 per cent - more than 600 employees - by the end of 2015.