Changes to youth services in Northumberland

Changes to Northumberland’s youth service have now been implemented after a review three years ago.

By Ben O'Connell
Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 4:45 pm
County Hall in Morpeth.
County Hall in Morpeth.

Councillors on the family and children’s services committee were told in December 2018 that the service would continue to be ‘sustainable and fit for the future’ despite funding cuts.

A more targeted approach has been introduced so that greater resources go to areas of high need and larger population centres, while in other towns, local voluntary groups which already exist and work with young people offer alternative provision, with support from the council.

The December 2018 report said the changes would result in significant savings with a ‘73% reduction in the management team costs and a 19% reduction in the participation service costs without reducing the number of staff delivering work with young people’.

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An update to the committee on March 5 explained that staffing changes have been completed and the new management team is in place, while a new positive vision and set of values have been drawn up.

An agreed set of outcomes plus a new recording system mean that the impact of the youth service can be demonstrated, members heard.

Mary Connor, head of service for children’s social care, said: “We do continue to have a very substantial youth service right across Northumberland.”

Asked how close the service was to matching provision with demand, she added: “It’s too early to say with the review, but that’s what we will be able to do with the reporting system. Before it’s been done on a word-of-mouth, ad-hoc basis.”

Coun Wayne Daley, the Conservative cabinet member for children’s services, took the opportunity to criticise the Northumberland Labour group for its recent assertion that the county council’s spending on services for young people had dropped by 76% in the past 10 years.

Labour’s analysis failed to acknowledge that there had been changes to how the Government figures were recorded, with a large chunk of funding moved into a different column heading in 2013/14.

However, despite this change, the figures still show a significant reduction in spending on youth services Northumberland since 2010/11.

Nonetheless, Coun Daley described it as ‘fake news that’s undermining the work our youth service does’.