Despite cuts, changes will boost youth work

County Hall, Morpeth.
County Hall, Morpeth.

There is plenty of optimism about the future of the Youth Service in Northumberland, despite the fact it is to lose a fifth of its budget in 2016/17.

It has to save £240,000 from a total budget of around £1.2million in the next financial year.

However, planned changes are designed to help the service refocus on the children and young people who most need support and reduce costs in a way that avoids any detrimental impact on front-line services.

At last week’s meeting of the county council’s family and children’s services scrutiny committee, it was highlighted that in spite of the cuts, there will be a five per cent increase in face-to-face services.

The savings will be made by reducing the number of management posts and savings in other back-office costs.

One of the other proposals is to rearrange the county into three areas, grouping together young people who live in areas with similar characteristics – the rural north and west; the former coalfield areas, eg Ashington and Amble; and other settlements in the southern part of the county, eg Morpeth, Ponteland and Cramlington.

However, deputy chief executive Daljit Lally said it was important not to get ‘too hung up’ on the geography, as it’s more about ‘targeted work for more vulnerable young people’.

Coun Trevor Thorne said: “If this does mean we are going to see a difference in rural areas then it’s very welcome.”

Education commissioner Dean Jackson added: “In some rural areas, there’s no provision, but we can offer support for the community to get things off the ground.”