New youth provision gives lie to Shropshire Council’s claims of efficiency

The Shropshire Council Lib Dem group met with officers last Tuesday to discuss the new arrangements for delivering youth services from next April.

Youth services are a central priority for the four unitary councillors for Ludlow and Clee. We have long been on the ball, so we didn’t learn much new.

We were though shocked to learn that the Director of Commissioning at Shropshire Council did not realise that the new provision has failed to provide for people aged 19-24 who have learning difficulties.

We did discover that, although our Ludlow budget is calculated only on the needs of the Sandpits area, we can use to to support young people across Ludlow and Clee.

We did get an explanation why the “infrastructure provider” for the new youth services is going to cost £130,000. That’s the figure that Shropshire Council came up with, and bidders were asked to tender to this indicative price. It’s a cool 28% of the budget for a support service that doesn’t deliver any face-to-face sessions with young people. Overall, the overheads in 2015/16 are 48%.

We did get agreement that my sketch of how the new system will operate is broadly correct. Here is what I read out at the meeting as a description of how we will work in Ludlow in future:

Shropshire Council has announced a grant and set priorities. The Local Joint Committee will meet to take advice from the Infrastructure Provider on scope and priorities. It will consult widely on the scope and priorities, and ask the Youth Partnership to issue a tender. The Youth Partnership will meet to issue a tender, advised by the Infrastructure Provider. Bids will come in and be assessed by the Youth Partnership in conjunction with the Infrastructure Provider. The Youth Partnership will meet formally to agree a bid, again advised by the Infrastructure Provider. All the usual checks that are needed to allow the successful bidder to work with young and vulnerable people will be carried out by the Infrastructure Provider. The Infrastructure Provider will draft a contract. The contract will go to Shropshire Council for legal checks and then to the Local Joint Committee for approval. If the Local Joint Committee has questions, it will be further advised by the Infrastructure Provider. Once the Local Joint Committee agrees, the contract will be issued by Shropshire Council. The contract will then be managed by the Youth Partnership, advised by the Infrastructure Provider. The Youth Partnership will report on progress to the Local Joint Committee. The Local Joint Committee will report back to Shropshire Council on performance and outcomes, probably using a format agreed between the Infrastructure Provider and the council. Within Shropshire Council, details and summaries of performance and outcomes will be reported to internal committees before going to Scrutiny and to Council in aggregate form.

I hope you followed all of that as this is the scheme we will have to adopt to spend just £10,680 in Ludlow. Yes, you read that right. Less than one thousand pounds a month on youth services. But at least we will have a gold plated bureaucracy.

Shropshire Council claims it is developing efficient business processes. There is no sign of that in youth services.

Tracey Huffer explains the changes to the youth services.