Hounslow Council


Agenda item

Call-in: Decision on CHAS 546: Youth Service Review

a.    Request for Call-in – Cllr John Todd

b.    Initial Response to Call-in – Lead Member Cllr Tom Bruce

c.    Committee Questions

d.    Protected Public Time

e.    Members Discussion and Decision

 

Decision:

Please see the report and appendices (agenda item 2).

 

Having listened carefully to the arguments made, the Committee decided to refer the decision back to Cabinet. Members expressed concern that the scale and pace in the reduction of funding for Youth Services may pose a risk the future of youth centres in the borough. The Committee therefore asked that the Cabinet:

 

·         Looks again at the scale of funding reduction in this service area;

·         Ensures any change from one model to another happens more progressively allowing greater time for adaptation; and

·         Makes a final decision once the results of the commissioning is known and the impact is fully understood (the Overview and Scrutiny Committee requested that they be shown the outcome)



Minutes:

Please see the report and appendices (agenda item 2).

 

Welcome

The Chair noted that the report in question CHAS 546 Youth Services Review sets out a fundamental shift in how Youth Services will be provided in the future. In order to deliver a saving of £650k (this is on top of savings previously agreed) it moves from a centre-based model to a ‘peripatetic’ service (one that travels from place to place). After consultation, the service will provide a largely universal service offer (i.e. for anyone) rather than a wholly targeted service (for those who are most vulnerable/in need).

Cllr Todd has led a Call-In citing 17 reasons, which are set out on pages 55 to 57. Cllr Bruce has provided a response to each of these as set out on pages 59 to 68. Having received this response Cllr Todd has narrowed the areas he wishes to focus on during the Call-In. These are:

1.    The scale of the reduction in budget (as set out in Reason 2)

2.    The viability of the new commissioned service (as set out in Reasons 5 & 6)

3.    Impact upon children with physical or mental disabilities (as set out in Reasons 16 & 17)

Cllr Chatt noted that three comments from the public were received today but cannot be accepted as part of the Public Protected Time as they were submitted past the due date. However, they have been printed, circulated and noted by the Committee.

 

a.    Request for Call-in – Cllr John Todd

Cllr Todd set out his reasons for the Call-in and focussed on the following points:

·         The scale of savings are extensive and, in his opinion, not viable. He indicated that the scale of the savings was significantly above the savings proposed in other boroughs in 2016/17.

·         The impact of the savings shall mean that clubs may close and this would adversely affect young people in the borough. The response to the Youth Survey indicated that the users of the facilities valued the clubs as a ‘safe place to go’.

·         These clubs often serve young people who are poor and that may not be identified through looking at the areas of deprivation. The users of these services might also be awaiting support from other services such as CAMHS and the lack of clubs might exacerbate their problems. These clubs also refer into services creating additional bottlenecks. Links were also made with the impact of the closure of these clubs on Children in Care and broader issues such as obesity.

·         The options for different service models have not been explored or presented sufficiently.

·         With an additional funding of £300,000, three of the youth clubs might function for another year which would ease the transition into the new arrangements. He noted that Cabinet was able to identify an addition £150 000 per year for three years as a transitional funding after the consultation process.

·         The savings cuts and the proposals shall have a disproportionate impact on children with SEND, physical and mental disabilities. He noted PHAB which has been going for 50 years might be supported through a more permanent lease agreement.

·         The 44 staff redundancies are extensive.

·         The 2014 Local Labour Manifesto refers to helping to provide the best future for children in the borough.

 

b.    Initial Response to Call-in – Lead Member Cllr Tom Bruce

Councillor Bruce responded to the points raised by Cllr Todd and noted

·         The proposals do not plan to close youth clubs. Although the levels of saving are high, transitional plans have been put in place to try and ensure the sustainability of youth clubs and help them to access other funding sources. £450,000 has been committed over the next three years to help with the transition

·         There has been extensive consultation on the proposals, over and above what is required by law and the proposals have been amended based on the feedback. Initially they considered a fully targeted model and this has been changed to provide some universal services.

·         It was questioned how Cllr Todd might select three of the five centers for further funding,

·         This is not an easy decision but within the context of local government funding cuts it is necessary to make savings. Cllr Bruce expressed his opinion that the proposals provide for the commissioning of a potentially good model with the much-reduced budget.

·         The drawn-out nature of the Call-in Process has made this process difficult.

 

c. Committee Questions

The Chair opened the floor to the members for questions. These centred on:

·         Whether the clubs might continue without funding from the Council;

·         Whether cuts could be less or made more gradually;

·         Whether saving in other areas could be made to reduce the cuts to the youth service budget;

·         How the budget cuts were determined;

·         The sufficiency of mitigation measures for clubs and their services;

·         Confidence in the proposed commissioning model and whether it would meet the aims and scale;

·         The proposals around meeting the identified needs with a peripatetic model;

·         The impact of the savings on young people;

·         The cutting of smaller projects;

·         The capacity of the VCSE organisation (such as Scouts to absorb or serve young people previously serviced by the Council or clubs especially in the context of funding reductions in the sector;

·         The extent and scale of the consultation and the materials used to engage residents.

 

d.    Protected Public Time

The Chair invited statements from the three individuals who made a request to speak.

Mr Lucas Chair of the Hogarth Youth Club, made a statement providing a local perspective and user understanding of the Hogarth club. He emphasised that

·         The financial position of the club means that without funding from the Council they would not be able to provide services;

·         The Club services many deprived areas especially through the summer programme and the lack of alternatives for young people

·         The physical building is important as a meeting point and safe space and this will have long term impacts on the young people.

Catriona Cheek, Member of UK Youth Parliament for Hounslow, asked "The proposed savings include just two hours a week of support for the Youth Council. Does the committee understand the implications of this, i.e. no Youth Council attendance at council/police/other meetings, no consultation with young people and no support for the UK Youth Parliament? We are very keen to help the borough commission a service that supports all young people, including Phab and Young Carers, and we can't do this on two hours a week."

Ms Cheek also read Will Robinson question “Do the committee believe that the Council's plans will safeguard the future of the groups affected, especially given that the buildings that houses these groups will no longer be funded under these plans to services?”

Michael Marks clarified that the Youth Council will received less support as the full-time support will be reduced to a part time post of 6-8 hours per week. This was initially not in the first set of proposals but has been added due to important role the Youth Council plays.

Cllr Bruce noted that things will need to be done differently but there will still be some support for the Youth Council.  The transitional funding will be used to safeguard the groups affected by the review. 

e. Members Discussion and Decision

The Committee retired for discussion.

Decision

The Chair announced that, having listened carefully to the arguments made, the Committee has decided to refer the decision back to Cabinet. They are concerned that the scale and pace in the reduction of funding for Youth Services risks the future of youth centres in the borough. The Committee would therefore ask that the Cabinet:

·         Looks again at the scale of funding reduction in this service area

·         Ensures any change from one model to another happens more progressively allowing greater time for adaptation

·         Makes a final decision once the results of the commissioning are known and the impact is fully understood (this committee would also like to see the outcome)

·         Looks again at the scale of funding reduction in this service area;

·         Ensures any change from one model to another happens more progressively allowing greater time for adaptation; and

·         Makes a final decision once the results of the commissioning is known and the impact is fully understood (the Overview and Scrutiny Committee requested that they be shown the outcome)



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