West Sussex youth cuts delayed

A brand new option has emerged that could see cuts in the West Sussex youth services budget phased over a longer period than originally proposed.

This would allow more time for the voluntary and community sector to come forward and take over some services.

A timetable that would see a £2m budget reduction being spread over four instead of three financial years will be discussed at a meeting of the county children and young people’s services select committee.

Members will be looking in detail at proposals that will complete re-designing the service to one where its resources are targeted at the most vulnerable young people, such as those at risk of offending or re-offending, and those not in any form of education, employment or training (NEETs).

The committee is being asked to look at the proposals and pass its comments to Cllr Peter Evans, cabinet member for children and families, who will take a final decision later in the month.

Members will also look at the results of a recent consultation into youth services provision, which attracted 1,311 responses, 44 per cent of them from young people aged 19 or under.

A report to the committee shows how the £2m saving is currently due to be made by the 2013/14 financial year.

But it says that Cllr Evans and the county cabinet have also asked for a new option that will extend the phasing to 2014/15 ‘to allow time to develop voluntary community sector capacity and capabilities to take on services’.

The report adds: “The cabinet member remains committed to achieving the proposed £2m savings and any proposed phasing of the budget reductions should still achieve this overall reduction.”

Cllr Evans said: “This is not about a change of direction because we have to live within our means, and we cannot afford to continue with the current level of service. I must make that clear.

“That means we must use our resources where they will have the most impact and that will be based around targeted services.”