As chair of WAYC, the biggest youth work charity in Warwickshire, I have recently had sight of the proposal put forward by Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for the environment setting out the future shape of the Voluntary Sector Funding agreement. The document is a disappointment on a number of fronts, but most specifically its total lack of balance and clarity is shocking.
The proposal represents a cut of £518,000 (a reduction of the annual budget in this area over the four-year period of some 25 per cent). Most worryingly, a significant proportion of the cuts (£250,000) is allocated to the Voluntary Sector Infrastructure Support area through the proposed single contract.
This proposal fails to set out the impact of this change and leaves the reader with the distinct impression that this is solely an efficiency cut with the volume of work unchanged since they still expect that the infrastructure organisations will continue “growing and diversifying the service offer of the voluntary sector”. Actually, this cut will impact significantly on the work all of the voluntary sector organisations can deliver within Warwickshire.
I am also deeply concerned that there is no ring fencing for work with young people. The nearly £20,000 we received from the council enabled us to support 100 youth groups in Warwickshire, working with 1,139 volunteer youth workers and supporting 9,200 young people.
By not ring fencing this money, the proposal is effectively another cut to young people’s services within the county. Voluntary youth clubs are just about the only youth work provision left in Warwickshire after county councillors slashed its statutory spending on youth work by 56 per cent, one of the biggest cuts to the youth service throughout the UK. Most of its youth clubs have subsequently closed, as it is difficult to find volunteers willing to take on the task.
Chris Cox, Chair of WAYC