Backing given to youth services plan

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PLANS that could save the jobs of Wiltshire youth workers have won the backing of the county’s children’s committee.

Council leaders want to cut £190,000 from the £1.2m youth services budget, and their favoured option to date has been to axe the equivalent of 50 full-time posts, replacing them with ‘community-led’ provision.

But on Tuesday the committee voted in favour of an alternative plan recommended by a task group that it had set up to look into the service’s role and its future in more detail.

It includes cutting £20,000 from the budget for the Sparksite information website for young people, and shutting the little-used confidential advice service The Line, saving a further £20,000. The other £150,000 would be found by reallocating budgets.

Committee chairman Jon Hubbard said: “Necessary savings can be achieved in the budget, while still being able to provide services with professional youth workers, as well as training and employment opportunities for apprenticeships.”

He said it was important to take into account the preventative work that youth services undertake with young people who might otherwise end up on drugs or commit crime.

Cllr Jacqui Lay, a member of the task group, said: “A number of members still think we are only running youth club services, which is not all we provide. They do provide services which I don’t think we recognise enough.”

The council’s Cabinet will decide whether to accept the report on May 15.

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