A guest post by Tracey Huffer, chair of Ludlow Youth Partnership and Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow East.
I despair. Expertise, experience and effectiveness matter nothing to a council only concerned with costs.
I appreciate that Shropshire Council has to overhaul its youth provision in a time of cuts. But the new budget is only a miserable £470,700 and much of that is set to be pumped into overheads not local youth activities.
We learnt last Friday afternoon that we are being given just £10,850 to run a whole range of services across Ludlow next year. That includes employing staff.
There is no point pretending that this funding is adequate. It is not. We are going to lose key staff who will be made redundant early next year. These are people who know youngsters and understand their concerns. They are our friends and they are friends of young people. Unfortunately, that counts for nothing in Shropshire Council’s new world where services are commissioned rather than provided. Expertise, experience and effectiveness matter nothing. The council is only concerned with the cost.
What is just as shocking is that the council plans to spend nearly half of its youth budget on overheads (44%). Some of these costs are unavoidable because we need to pay for buildings like Ludlow Youth Centre. But more than a quarter of the money is going on something called ‘infrastructure support’ (28%). That’s professional services to you and me, and it will in future be provided by an external contractor.”
This support service will cost £130,000.
The support service will not provide any activities to young people. It will give advice to the Local Joint Committees (LJCs) which will be responsible for commissioning local youth provision. It will help write contracts and organise DBS checks to ensure that adults are safe to work with youngsters. But the support service won’t engage with young people directly. All that for £130,000, an average of £8,300 for each funded LJC. The average funding for each LJC is £13,000. Clearly, this overhead is out of all proportion to the level of service that we will be able deliver in Ludlow and elsewhere.
How can Shropshire Council claim to be efficient and reinventing its processes when its overheads are rising while the money to deliver essential services is being cut.
Our budget for Ludlow, £10,850 for 2015/16, is based on the needs of the Sandpits area alone. The allocation totally ignores Clee, which is part of the LJC area and has a lot of need. If Clee had been included, we may well have got £3,000 extra in ‘rurality’ funding.
Our key staff in Ludlow are about to be made redundant and we will need to cut back youth provision to a minimum. That can’t be right given the troubles we have in town. We need to give people a good start in life, not just abandon them.
The youth activities we run in Ludlow and Clee aim to be fun, but they also have a very serious purpose. If we don’t invest in our youth and help them with their problems, we just store up difficulties for our town’s future.
Shropshire Council’s Youth activities budget for 2015-16 is £470,700. Of this, £130,000 is allocated to Infrastructure Support; £26,940 is to support Members of the Youth Parliament; and £78,810 is on buildings and associated staff costs. This leaves £ 234,950 for the 23 Local Joint Committees.
Nine of the LJCs, including Ludlow and Clee, will get needs based grants ranging from £81,500 in Shrewsbury to £10,120 in Bridgnorth. Nine others will get ‘rurality’ funding of £3,000 each. Five LJCs will receive no funding.
|Longden, Ford, Rea Valley and Loton||£16,630|
|Wem and Shawbury||£12,450|
|Gobowen, Selattyn, St Martin’s, and Weston Rhyn||£12,120|
|Ludlow and Clee area||£10,850|
|Bridgnorth, Worfield, Alveley and Claverley||£10,120|
|Bishop’s Castle, Chirbury, Worthen and Clun||£3,000|
|Strettondale and Burnell||£3,000|
|Tern and Severn Valley||£3,000|
|Craven Arms and Rural||£3,000|
|Highley and Brown Clee||£3,000|
|Cleobury and Rural||£3,000|
|Much Wenlock and Shipton||£3,000|
|Five Perry Parishes||£0|
|Shifnal and Sheriffhales||£0|
|Broseley and Rural||£0|