Changes to youth services

We want all young people in Westminster to reach their full potential and be equipped for the future. 

We are committed to this goal, but like other local authorities, can only achieve it at a time of significant budget reductions by making changes to some of our services, including non-statutory youth services.

Non-statutory youth services means these services are not legally required and it is up to each local authority as to whether to provide them 

The council has to make savings of over £100 million over the next three years, and we have to take some difficult decisions to make sure our limited resources are used to protect the most vulnerable young people in Westminster.

What decision has been taken?

To shape the future of youth services in Westminster we ran a consultation in January 2016 asking young people what they thought about our proposed changes, including establishing a new charitable foundation for children and young people aged 0-25.

Thank you to everyone who took part. We took all your feedback on board and the decision was taken to:

  • Publish a Charter for Young People on the council’s continuing commitment to supporting young people in Westminster.
  • Reshape the council’s Early Help service so that it offers more targeted support for the most vulnerable young people.
  • Establish a Young Westminster Foundation to raise funds for non-statutory youth and children’s services in a new, more effective way.  
  • Extend contracts with current youth providers until 30 September 2016, after which time these contracts would come to an end.  

Why was the decision taken?

Our priority as a council is to protect and provide services to the most vulnerable people in society, including young people. 

Youth work plays an important part in this, but the council has to make savings of £100 million by 2019/20 while ensuring it fulfils its responsibility to protect the most vulnerable young people.

To do so the council has to review how it supports the delivery of services to young people in a period when public funding is reducing.

This is in line with the council’s Early Help Strategy 2014-18 which was agreed following extensive public consultation in February 2015. The strategy called for a review of our investment in universal services, including youth services, to ensure resources were targeted at those most in need.

We know that addressing problems when they first emerge is the best way to protect vulnerable young people. The council’s new Early Help service launched in October 2016 and offers targeted support for young people at the earliest opportunity.  

What will happen to youth clubs in Westminster?

The council previously part-funded 13 voluntary sector youth providers who run youth clubs in Westminster.

To deliver savings and ensure our limited resources are directed at those most in need the council extended its contracts with youth providers until the end of September 2016. The extension gave youth clubs time to plan ahead and find new sources of funding if needed.     

Caxton Youth Organisation, a youth club that runs short breaks for young people with disabilities in Westminster, will continue to be funded by the council.

What is the Young Westminster Foundation?

The Young Westminster Foundation is a new charitable foundation that is being formed by the council, representatives from the voluntary youth sector, charities, young people, and others that want to support children and young people aged 0-25.

The Foundation will not deliver services directly, but will take advantage of Westminster’s unique position in the heart of London, and the biggest economy in the UK, to raise funds for youth services in a new way.

The Young Westminster Foundation will:  

  • give young people, and groups that work with young people, more say in what services are available than ever before
  • bring together a traditionally fragmented and diverse sector to secure funding for services which deliver the best possible outcomes for children and young people
  • act on behalf of its members to secure resources for services for children and young people in Westminster, which would otherwise be unobtainable due to eligibility criteria or a complicated application process
  • develop a more diverse range of support services and activities which better meets the needs of children and young people in Westminster
  • capitalise on the unparalleled opportunities available in central London
  • offer a hub for best practice sharing in the sector.

In the January 2016 consultation on youth services young people told us that further education/training and youth club-style activities were the most important areas for the Foundation to address and the founding trustees are making sure this forms part of future funding bids. Young people also wanted to make sure they had a say in the future direction of the Foundation. Following this feedback is has been agreed that the new Foundation will establish a standing advisory body composed of young people.  

Work towards establishing the Young Westminster Foundation is well underway, and similar Foundations are already set up, and proving successful, in other boroughs.    

Last updated 30 September 2016