Staff-run social enterprise set to take on council youth service

Adam Offord
Thursday, September 15, 2016

A council in the south west of England has announced plans to commission an independent staff-run social enterprise to run its youth service.

Devon County Council said it intends to award the youth service contract, worth £5.15m over three years, to independent staff-run social enterprise DYS Space Ltd.

The announcement comes following a review of the service, public consultation on its future and procurement process.

The council took the decision to hand running of the service to an independent organisation in October 2015. It said this was needed to put the service on a more stable financial footing following a £970,000 cut in youth services spending in 2014, which led to the closure of 32 facilities, and loss of 60 jobs.

Subject to "call in" and "stand still" periods - local government processes designed to allow the decision to be scrutinised and challenged before being finalised - all of the council's 57 full-time equivalent youth service staff would transfer to the new organisation, with the aim of awarding the contract by mid-October to begin on 1 February 2017.

As part of the move, the youth service would continue to operate from eight youth centres, offering open access youth work and targeted support.

It would also offer "alternative education packages", work with local partners to deliver open youth work sessions, and continue to provide professional support to communities.

Barry Parsons, lead member of community services, said: "Councils have had to cut youth service budgets considerably and many such services have disappeared altogether.

"I'm proud to say we have tried to maintain a professional and well-focused 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.

"This decision at last gives 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."

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