THURROCK Council is looking at an innovative way of ensuring the borough’s young people continue to receive top-quality youth services into the future.
Members of the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee heard about the proposals on Tuesday (15 September).
The committee was told how many councils had completed stopped some or even all youth services, while Thurrock had maintained them all, but that increasing pressures on budgets meant the council had to look at new ways of working.
Members also heard how the plans to create a charitable trust “staff mutual” organisation – called Inspire – to run youth services in Thurrock had been discussed in detail with the government’s Cabinet Office which was “particularly interested in the range of services Thurrock Council was considering” and the “engagement that had taken place with young people”.
Committee chair, Cllr James Halden, said afterwards: “There were some concerns – about governance and sustainability – which I think we have answered, but overall this seems like a brilliant piece of work which is both exciting and innovative.”
The proposal, which will go to the council’s cabinet later this year, involves all youth services, including Grangewaters, and staff transferring to the new organisation.
Cllr Halden said: “There is still a lot of work to be done, but creating a staff mutual charity organisation opens up many different and new funding opportunities that the council itself is unable to access.
“And it is good to see that the team is already thinking in different ways – applying to the local enterprise partnership for funding for example.
“I am really looking forward to watching how these plans progress when they are brought back to overview before full implementation.”
Members agreed that subject to the financial constraints of the council, they supported the development of a staff mutual (charitable trust) to deliver youth- and community-related activities; to recommend cabinet backs the “spinning out” of the services after due diligence is undertaken; that a four-year contract with a break clause in year three for renegotiation helps launch the scheme, with a five per cent funding reduction from year two; and they supported support the inclusion of Grangewaters Outdoor Education Centre into the planned staff mutual.