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South West Wiltshire Liberal Democrats

Youth Workers get Redundancy for Christmas

December 8, 2011 2:15 PM

Wiltshire Council's 11-19 Strategy, which was approved by Cabinet in September, makes a commitment to continue with youth clubs, and with an information advice service (currently provided by Connexions) for young people, particularly those young people at risk of becoming NEET (Not in Employment, Education and Training), those with specific additional needs, and those with disabilities.

The 11-19 Strategy includes greater involvement of young people with Area Boards, local communities, the voluntary sector, and businesses to support 'open access' delivery in each community area. Open Access is defined as young people being able to walk into any youth centre and take part in activities, access support and guidance and find out about things they can do with their leisure time. No youth centres will be closing.

WC will be trialling "youth advisory groups" which will be attached to the council's eighteen area boards and these groups will be chaired by a young person. The groups will work with the boards to plan and shape local services ensuring young people play an integral role in service delivery.

The council's business plan sets out cuts of £600,000 from the youth service. These will be phased cutting £450,000 from next year's budget and £150,000 from the 2013/14 budget.

The Strategy sets out staff cuts of £122,500. This equates to 1.7 full time equivalent youth development coordinator posts.

In line with the council's statutory HR processes, the 19 youth development coordinator posts and 7 youth development team leader posts (26 in total) will be placed at risk. Letters inviting affected staff to a collective consultation meeting on the 14 December are being distributed on 6th and 7th December.

Savings of £68,000 will come from the 'rationalisation' of assistant youth worker staff contracts. Since April this year all assistant youth workers have been on fixed term contracts which expire on 1 April 2012.

WC intends to terminate the 62 fixed term contracts and place all 170 assistant youth workers at risk of redundancy. This will result in a move from a larger temporary workforce to a smaller, permanent workforce.

Connexions Service

The Education Act 2011 removes the responsibility for the provision of 'Information Advice Guidance' from local authorities from September 2012 to schools. The Government will also establish a new National Careers Service from January. The 2008 Act as amended by recent Government Guidance indicates that local authorities should be targeting its 'Youth Engagement' resource on young people with additional needs; those at risk of becoming NEET, those who are NEET, those who may have additional needs such as being teenage parents, and those young people with disabilities.

The council will continue to work closely with schools to support identified young people.

The effect of these changes is that WC will cut Connexions staff from 36 full time equivalent posts to 19. Having considered the appropriateness of placing staff at risk two weeks before the Christmas period, it was felt that to delay the process would prolong uncertainty and the preference was to proceed.