Council approves youth and children's centre closures

By Adam Offord

| 29 February 2016

A council has rubber-stamped plans to cut its youth services budget by more than 60 per cent and close three children's centres as part of efforts to save money.

Sutton Council will no longer run universal open-access youth services. Picture: Sutton Council

Sutton Council has approved plans to reduce the annual £1.1m youth and adolescent services budget as part of £74m in cuts that have to be made across the authority by 2019.

Meanwhile, the council has also approved plans to close three of its 14 children’s centres at the end of the financial year, instead of the proposed four – in order to save £727,000 a year from its annual children’s centre budget. 

The £667,000 saving to the youth service budget represents a cut of 60.4 per cent. The council said it will no longer run a universal open-access youth service at two of its three youth centres, while the third will become offices for youth and adolescent workers.

In addition, it will also axe the borough’s youth engagement programme, which includes the Sutton Youth Parliament.

As part of the new restructured service, Sutton Council will look to support and track young people not in education, employment or training, while an officer will be appointed to work with local providers to promote the development of youth provision.

The council said it will develop new ways to provide targeted services for vulnerable young people, which will be finalised in June.

As part of planned changes for early years services, the council will adopt a “borough-wide model" for children’s centre delivery, with six centres being turned into hubs, four into access points and one into a child development centre.

Wendy Mathys, chair of the children, families and education committee at Sutton Council, said government cuts to the council’s budget have meant there has been no choice but to reduce the size of the council and the services on offer.

“We can now work with our partner organisations to find other ways that our young people can receive the support they need," she said.

“Our children’s centres are a valuable community resource and we have listened to parents to create a new model that retains as many of the services as possible.”

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