Youth service finances in limbo

Financial pressures and funding delays have left proposals for a central youth hub for Brighton and Hove in limbo.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s corporate plan for 2020-23 includes a commitment to deliver “high-quality youth services.”

However, delays in securing grants from the national Youth Investment Fund means that support for Brighton Youth Centre to refurbish or rebuild its main centre to create a central youth hub is on hold.

The challenges are set out in a report to Brighton and Hove City Council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee.

It said that financial pressures – created by extra spending because of the coronavirus pandemic – mean that a future commitment to the hub would need to be considered as part of next year’s budget.

The Youth Service Grants Programme which pays for youth services operated by a variety of organisations across the city – from the youth centre to the Hangleton and Knoll Project and the Trust for Developing Communities – was originally supposed to finish at the end of March.

But councillors approved extending the scheme until September.

Next week the Children, Young People and Skills Committee is being asked to extend the £400,000-a-year programme until next March – and then to recommission services from April.

Granting the extension will allow the youth services team to explore options for the central hub as well as continue to support neighbourhood projects.

More than half the funding comes from the Housing Revenue Account, funded by council tenants’ rents.

Last year young people who benefited from schemes serving Brighton and Hove’s council estates spoke with residents’ representatives about how taking part had improved their mental health and encouraged their ambitions.

A survey of participants last year found about 2,200 young people across Brighton and Hove had gone along to various projects set up by organisations funded by the council, making on average eight visits each.

The council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee is due to hold a “virtual” meeting at 4pm next Monday (9 November). The meeting is scheduled  to be webcast on the council website.

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