Partnership working 'the best way to combat cuts to young people's services in Sheffield', says council

Coun Jackie Drayton
Coun Jackie Drayton
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Sheffield Council plans to work more with the police, health service and other organisations to better support young people in the city.

The authority needs to cut £123,000 from its youth budget in 2017/2018, and has launched a consultation on the future of the service.

Since 2002 the council has commissioned city charity Sheffield Futures to support those aged 13 to 19. It currently provides youth clubs, career guidance, support for young people at risk of falling out of education or at risk of getting involved in crime.

Up to 40,000 young people in Sheffield can access those services.

But that contract is coming to an end this year and cannot be automatically renewed.

As a result, the authority has decided to re-evaluate all its services for young people, with a focus on working with partner organisations and groups to make money go further.

This includes working with bodies that can either put in their own money or apply for grant funding.

The council says Government cuts have meant the youth budget has dropped from £12 million in 2010 to just under £4 million in 2016.

Assistant director of lifelong learning, skills and communities Sam Martin said all ideas for the future of the service were welcome.

"The expectation is the budget doesn't get any easier. It remains a challenge," he said.

"So we are trying to think ahead to forge better partnerships with the resources we think we are going to have."

By law the council has to provide certain services for young people.

This includes helping 16-year-olds make a successful transition from school to further education, training or employment, and preventing crime and antisocial behaviour among young people.

Cuts have meant non-statutory services have declined in recent years. But the authority hopes that by working better with partners it can still encourage and facilitate new services.

One idea is a young people's enrichment fund, whereby the council would partner with a voluntary or community organisation to secure a pot of funding from which grants for new services would be awarded.

The authority plans to continue the community youth team programme and build a targeted programme to reach those most at risk of harmful behaviour.

And an investment partnership designed to support young people could be created with a variety of bodies such as the police and NHS.

Cabinet member for children, young people and families Jackie Drayton said it was about being more 'creative' with the service to better direct funding.

"If we put our money together, we get more for it," she said.

The consultation runs until July 26. Visit sheffield.citizenspace.com or call 0114 2736017.

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