Conservative controlled Derbyshire County Council has once again showed that it is a key innovator in delivering high quality services for the residents of the county. Its plans for delivering a bigger and better youth service will go to Cabinet on 12th June. In the biggest shake-up of youth services seen in Derbyshire for 30 years, which followed on from the biggest consultation ever carried out with young people the New Youth Offer proposes:
* A £250,000 grant scheme to help grow the VCI sector,
* To provide more activities for young people in all areas of the county at times and places they want to do them, including mobile youth services
* To ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable young people in Derbyshire are met more effectively
* To ensure our services are better targeted by new flexible contracts for our youth workers requiring them to work weekends and holidays and to retrain to work more effectively with partners in the Voluntary, Community and Independent (VCI) sectors
* Work with young people locally to design and shape those services
Over 1,300 expressions of interest were received to take over and run services from our buildings with 120 individuals and organisations saying they were ready to deliver services. We have pledged that no youth centre will be closed without a suitable alternative being sought. Looking at suitable alternatives has the potential to unlock further savings and provide money to reinvest in commissioning our partners as we seek to grow that sector.
The consultation provided us with the information needed to shape the New Youth Offer, we listened and heard what people said and in particular what young people said. Underpinning the consultation was a requirement about taking in and evaluating what people think and want from services and the recommendations in the report will reflect that.
The Conservatives set out at the start of this consultation saying that this was about developing a fit for purpose 21st century youth provision that was bigger and better than before and would reach more young people more effectively and fairly. We also believed that this could be done whilst saving money by working with our skilled and experienced partners in the VCI sector and the New Youth Offer delivers this. Labour believe that only Derbyshire County Council can deliver youth services at a higher cost in focused areas, publically dismissing the VCI sector as ‘unqualified’.
We have already achieved £800,000 of savings through more efficient use of our resources. All this whilst still being one of the biggest providers of youth services in the country. Overall, across the CAYA budget our annual spend on teenagers and activities is £10m, which demonstrates our commitment to young people in Derbyshire.
Cabinet Member for Young People, Barry Lewis, said “The consultation was, we believe, the biggest of its kind undertaken in England, its prime aim was to hear what young people themselves wanted out of youth services and with over 2,500 young people taking part we were keen to listen and that’s what we did. What we heard at times surprised us but we took it in and it is this that has shaped our new service. We started with a proposal that has been revised in light of what we heard and our final proposals are much better for it, which is what a true consultation should be about. What would be the point of having a consultation on a redesign of a service and not taking on board people’s views about it?”
We couldn’t just sit on our hands as Labour did for 28 years. We took the initiative and created change for the better. What did Labour do? Once again, they played politics with a hugely important issue that affects this county’s young people for its own ends.”