Certainty for Devon’s Youth Service
Posted on: 14 September 2016
Devon County Council has announced its intention to ‘save’ the county’s youth service by commissioning a new independent staff-run social enterprise to run the service on its behalf.
Devon, which is one of only a few local authorities still to provide a universal youth service, will invest more than £5m over the next three years to ensure professional community-based services for young people continue to be provided across the county.
The announcement of its intent to award the contract to DYS Space Ltd was made today (Wednesday 14 September) by the Council’s Cabinet following a major review of the service, widespread public consultation and a robust procurement process.
The decision will now be subject to the normal ‘call in’ and ‘stand still’ periods.
The Council, which is under continuing pressure to make financial savings, took the decision to put the Youth Service out to tender last year to help protect it and give a new provider the opportunity to develop new ways of working, access new sources of funding and attract investment not available to a local authority.
The Council will retain responsibility for its statutory responsibilities towards young people including child protection and early help services.
Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for community services, Cllr Barry Parsons, said:
“Having spoken with many young people and local community representatives over the last few years, it’s clear to me how valued, respected and well supported our youth services and youth service staff are.
“Elsewhere, councils have had to cut youth service budgets considerably and many such services have disappeared altogether.
“But in Devon I’m proud to say we have tried to maintain a professional and well-focussed youth service with a network of youth hubs open to all young people and targeted support for vulnerable individuals through schools and in local communities.
“Now we’re committing more than £5 million over the next three years to help keep these important services alive and developing.”
The Council’s youth services will continue to operate from its eight hubs in Tiverton, Barnstaple, Exeter, Totnes, Okehampton, Newton Abbot, Bideford and Exmouth, with youth workers providing a mix of open to all services and targeted support to vulnerable young people across local communities.
The new organisation will also work out of the Red Rock Youth Centre in Dawlish to provide alternative education packages as well as working alongside local partners to deliver open youth work sessions.
They will also continue to provide professional support to communities in the development of a broader network of youth clubs and community projects.
Councillor Parsons said:
“This decision at last gives the Devon Youth Service and staff some certainty over the future of the service and with it much greater freedom and flexibility for the service to put itself on a firmer financial footing.
“I hope it will bring opportunities, otherwise not possible, for the service to continue to develop in a way that gives both young people and local communities the kind of services they need and want.”
Bids put forward as part of the procurement process were evaluated by a panel with relevant specialist knowledge.
Subject to the Council’s decision making and procurement processes, the contract, worth £5.15 million over its three year term, is expected to start on 1 February 2017.
Posted in: Community