Council to end funding for universal youth services

By Joe Lepper

| 20 February 2017

A council is to end its universal youth provision as part of a £5.9m cost-cutting plan for children's services.

Universal youth services in Coventry are to be replaced with community-run targeted provision. Picture: Arlen Connelly

Members of Coventry City Council's cabinet are to consider the move when they meet next month as part of a package of savings across its youth services and early years provision.

Under the plans, delivery of universal youth services across the city will cease and be replaced with a targeted offer focusing on "the hardest to reach and most vulnerable young people", a council statement said. 

The new service is likely to be run by the voluntary and community sector, which the council said has shown "a lot of interest" in taking on targeted, local youth work.

A £525,000 transition fund has been set up to help local groups run the new streamlined service.

Kevin Maton, lead member for education and skills, added: "Coventry is not alone in having to struggle with far less government funding. We have had no choice about developing proposals that will affect the services we know Coventry people value.

"Our priority is to support, as far as possible, our most vulnerable residents. We want to avoid making crude cuts to services, as other councils have been forced to do, but we can only do this by working with other organisations and local communities to develop a long-term strategy for our services."

In total the council hopes to shave £2.4m off its 2017/18 spending and cut another £3.5m in 2018/19. This is likely to lead to a reduction of 85 full-time equivalent posts.

The council said it has lost £95m a year in central government funding since 2010, a figure it anticipates will rise to £119m a year by 2020.

The cost-cutting plans will also see a reduction in children's centre services.

Three are to close by the end of May with their services transferred to the eight remaining centres, which will be converted into family hubs targeting vulnerable 0- to 19-year-olds and their families.

Nursery provision at the remaining centres will only stay in place if local schools or independent providers are able to take the work on. So far alternative nursery providers have been found for five centres.

Ed Ruane, lead member for children and young people said: "We are having to focus our efforts on the most vulnerable. But I also appreciate concerns of local people. The reality is that as a result of government actions we simply cannot provide children's centres to everyone in the way we used to." 

blog comments powered by Disqus