Outsourcing proposals threaten youth services, NCVYS warns

Laura McCardle
Thursday, June 12, 2014

Youth services could be damaged if government proposals to outsource the delivery of council children's social care services are approved, the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS) has warned.

The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services has said government outsourcing plans threaten the future of youth services. Image: Alex Deverill
The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services has said government outsourcing plans threaten the future of youth services. Image: Alex Deverill

Responding to a recent consultation on the controversial proposals, NCVYS said the “extra layers” created by external organisations taking over delivery of some children's services, including child protection, would distance youth services from the council officials who hold responsibility for them.

The organisation also warned that services would be likely to fall victim to further budget cuts, putting their future in jeopardy as a result.

Responsibility for the youth portfolio was transferred from the Department for Education to the Cabinet Office in July 2013, but NCVYS said the majority of local authority-run youth services continue to be funded through and managed by children’s services.

The response states: “Even with the policy responsibility for youth services moving to the Cabinet Office, at the local level it is typically through children’s services that services for young people will be managed and funded.

“Reforms to these services are already under way across the country and we know that there is great potential for transformation and increased investment in services for young people, which help save money later.

“The consultation paper states that delegation does not remove the authority’s responsibility for ensuring that their statutory obligations are met. Yet we are extremely concerned that extra layers and distance will lead to youth services becoming even more marginalised as the lines of accountability become ever more blurred.”

However, a spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office said youth services would be unaffected by the plans.

She said: "The DfE’s consultation on children’s services will not change the duty or guidance in place on local authorities to provide services to improve young people’s wellbeing. 

"This duty guides local authorities to deliver clear, positive outcomes for young people according to local need, rather than prescribing specific services which might not meet the needs of the local young people.
 
"We are clear that local authorities should be accountable to local young people and others when making decisions on how to secure access to services and activities." 

A number of children’s charities have expressed concern at the proposals but the DfE has the backing of the Local Government Association and council chief executive's group Solace who, in a joint statement, said the idea is a “step in the right direction”.

On Tuesday, children’s minister Edward Timpson acknowledged concerns around the plans and pledged to give them serious consideration.

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