Council moves to protect the Devon Youth Service

Posted on: 14 October 2015

Councillors have approved plans to create an independent social enterprise to run the county’s youth service, which is currently managed by Devon County Council.

It will protect the service from further reductions to the council’s budget, while keeping its youth workers to continue running the service for young people and their communities.

The Council remodelled its youth service last year and now operating from a countywide network of 8 hubs in order to increase its focus on vulnerable young people.

But with more Government funding cuts to come, Councillors asked officers to assess options for the future running of the service.

Three options were identified:  keep the service within the council; outsource the service to an external organisation; or create a new not-for-profit organisation from the current service that would be independent from the council.

An independent panel, including young people, discounted options one and two on the grounds that they were least likely to bring about the savings needed without diminishing the quality of the service.  The panel unanimously supported option three, to create an independent social enterprise from the existing service, to provide the greatest potential to manage costs while providing consistency, continuity and sustainability.

The not-for-profit social enterprise will have access to funding currently unaccessible to council services and departments, therefore be less reliant on council budgets.

The Council will retain responsibility for ensuring its statutory responsibilities for young people’s services are carried out, commissioning the new organisation to deliver them on the council’s behalf.

Go ahead from the council’s Cabinet means that it must now establish an employee-led public service mutual or other social enterprise, which will then tender for the contract to run the youth service.

It will see Devon’s youth service follow examples in Kensington and Chelsea, Knowsley Metropolitan Council and others local authorities in embarking on similar operating models for their youth services.

Cllr Barry ParsonsCouncillor Barry Parsons, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for the youth service, said:

“Having focused our resources on supporting vulnerable young people, we want the service to have a firmer footing, less affected by the contraints of Council funding.

“We are confident that this is the best way to protect the service’s future for young people, while ensuring that the staff, who are already known within their communities, continue to provide the service.”

It is expected that the Devon Youth Service will be run by an independent organisation by September 2016.

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