Surrey youth service facing cuts in outsourcing plan

Kids playing The council has said the current system is inefficient and does not meet the needs of young people

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A plan to outsource youth services to the voluntary sector is being discussed by Surrey County Council.

It said the current system was inefficient and did not meet the needs of young people.

The Conservative-controlled council is also proposing to cut the youth service budget from £16.1m to £11.1m over the next two years.

The voluntary sector said it broadly backed the proposal but warned that the cuts would affect the service.

The council has been told it faces a £41m funding cut over the next two years as the government seeks to reduce the UK's budget deficit.

The youth service changes could mean that charities, voluntary groups and colleges would run services on behalf of the council.

As part of the plans, the council said it would give 11 local committees up to £200,000 a year to run projects agreed with young people from the area.

It would also join forces with further educational colleges to run vocational courses in its 35 youth clubs.

'Quite a challenge'

Tim Hall, a council cabinet member, said: "We want a better system that is much more localised and involves much more local decision making."

Mr Hall said some back office and management jobs might be at risk under the proposals.

Mike Abbott, chief executive of Surrey Youth Focus, an umbrella group for the county's youth organisations, said: "What we will be able to do is bring extra services into those youth centres that the county council presently does not have.

"But these cuts are not painless. These are real cuts that involve people's jobs and, I think, a diminution of service.

"By involving the voluntary youth sector we hope that the worst effect of the cuts may be mitigated but it is quite a challenge."

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