On Thursday, the council’s Children, Family and Education Committee (CFE Committee) approved the changes with a view to providing annual savings of £667,000 from the budget of £1,104,300 the council currently spends per year on youth services.
The council is having to reduce the cost of the youth and adolescent services due to unprecedented Government cuts to its annual budget, currently £148.4m. As a result, it has to save £74m from its annual budget between 2010 and 2019. So far £43m has been saved from its annual budget but there is a further £31m to go.
The new restructured service will include:
• Work to support and track those who are NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training). This will include an assessment for hardship allowance, and provide a tracking service to find out where all young people aged 16 to 19 go for their education, employment or training, offering support where needed.
• Ensuring the Department for Education’s requirements of ‘Raising the Participation Age’, where young people need to stay in education or training until they are 18 years old are met in Sutton. It will work with other education services, agencies and providers to ensure there is suitable post-16 provision through apprenticeships, colleges, training providers and Sixth forms.
• The employment of an officer to work with local providers including schools, charities and voluntary groups to promote the development of youth provision.
• The council will work with other services and partners to help develop opportunities for young people to share their views with the decision-makers and shape the services provided in the borough.
Sutton Council will no longer:
• Run a universal open access youth service through Sutton Youth Centre and the Youth Zone @ The Phoenix and Youth FM, whose studio is at the Youth Zone. The Quad Youth Centre will only be retained as a base for youth and adolescent workers.
• Deliver its Youth Engagement programme, which includes the Sutton Youth Parliament, the UK Youth Parliament election programme and the Youth Summit.
• Fund the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award licence which schools use to access the scheme, though the council will support schools.
Cllr Wendy Mathys, Chair of the Children, Families and Education Committee, said:
“I want to thank everyone who took part in this consultation. Our youth and adolescent services are a valuable borough resource and it is with great regret that we have to make some changes
“Unprecedented Government cuts to our budget have meant we have no choice but to reduce the size of the council and the services we offer. We can now work with our partner organisations to find other ways that our young people can receive the support they need.”
The eight-week consultation was through a special youth survey in which 280 young people took part, and through Sutton’s Future, a campaign to involve residents in shaping the future of the borough through the Government cuts, in which a further 144 people took part.
Some of the key findings were:
• In both the Sutton’s Future survey and the Young Person’s survey, the majority of respondents felt the council needed to provide more than just statutory youth services.
• Feedback from young people, adults and stakeholders emphasised the importance of maintaining support available to vulnerable young people
• Partners and service users alike were concerned about the potential additional pressure on other services such as social care, police and welfare support through removing youth services and, as such, the potential increase in service costs elsewhere.
• Schools and Headteachers were concerned at the potential loss of the Council’s support to how they deliver the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.
• Groups and organisations that hire Sutton Youth Centre were concerned about the potential loss of the venue.