Top

Top

 

Agenda Item No.

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 14TH JANUARY, 2013

 

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION): 6TH DECEMBER, 2012

 

 

“623    FUNDING ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE YOUTH OFFENDING SERVICE (DSS) –

 

The Youth Offending Service was a highly regulated, non-devolved service overseen by the Ministry of Justice and the Youth Justice Board.  The Crime and Disorder Act 1998, Section 39(1) placed a duty on each Local Authority, acting with its statutory partners (Police, Probation and Health) to establish a Youth Offending Service in their local area to deliver youth justice services.  In addition, Section 38(3) of the above Act placed a duty on Local Authorities and statutory partners to make payment towards the expenditure incurred in providing the relevant services.

 

The report set out the current funding arrangements for the Youth Offending Service (YOS) and the potential impact of proposed changes. 

 

A breakdown of the 2012/13 budget was set out in Appendix A to the report and demonstrated the insecure nature of significant contributions to the budget.  The Committee was also advised of the wide ranging current funding pressures on the service. 

 

The Ministry of Justice was the principle funder of the Youth Justice Board which was given a target in 2010 as part of the UK Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review to reduce its annual budget by 23% over the subsequent four financial years.  The Youth Justice Board (YJB) was responsible for funding custodial placements within the secure estate for children and young people.  This accounted for the majority of the budget with the remaining funding allocated to YOS programmes.  The YJB had given a commitment to protect as far as possible front line grants to YOS although, during 2011/12, a large proportion of the funding received from the Department of Education to fund prevention was moved to the Early Intervention Grant in England and the level of Home Office funding had also been reduced significantly because of its own ministerial budget cuts.  Grant funding received by the Council from the Ministry of Justice / YJB had reduced from £306,000 in 2010/11 to the current level of £225,000 for 2012/13 which had been partly offset by £62,000 in growth within the YOS Council budget during 2011/12 budget process. 

 

In tandem with the above the Council’s budget was also adversely affected by the above Spending Review and its effect on the allocations to the Welsh Government.  In 2010, the Council’s YOS was asked to make over a period of three years savings of £65,000 (9% of the 2010/11 budget).  Coupled with a reduction in funding of 23% from the YJB this meant that the YOS had to review all services and prioritise those delivered directly to children and young people.  Consequently, a range of savings were identified which included staff redundancy, reduction of hours for some posts, the decommissioning of some services such as the Taith Project for children who abuse others and removal of staff “on call” provision based on volunteers being supported to provide an out of hours provision.  In addition and following the transfer of the service to Children and Young People Services in April 2012, the service was also required to identify additional savings as part of the Social Services Directorate’s Budget Programme.  In line with other operational teams within the Division, the required savings amounted to 5% of the Council controllable budget which equated to approximately £21,000 for 2013/14. 

 

Funding contributions were also received from the following organisations:

 

·                    South Wales Police – secondment of a full time Police Constable to the YOS and the provision of £5,695 cash contribution towards capitation, administrative support and the YOS manager’s salary.  This contribution both in cash and services was reduced in 2011/12 by £10,145 overall of which £2,875 was a cash contribution.

·                    Wales Probation Trust – secondment of a full time Probation Officer to the YOS and the provision of £5,576 cash contribution towards YOS running costs.

·                    Local Health Board – employment and commissioning of services for the YOS in the form of a full-time Inroads Substance Misuse worker, a part-time (four days) physical health nurse and a part-time CAMHS substance misuse nurse with no cash contribution made.

 

In addition to the above funding reductions the budget for the YOS was also facing a number of risks in relation to the following matters:

 

·                    Proposed changes to the YJB funding formula – as a result of the UK Government’s localism agenda and a reduction in monitoring requirements, the Youth Justice Grant has been transferred into a single funding pot with one set of terms and conditions.  The aim was to allow YOS to focus their resources on tackling local issues without the constraints of specifically targeted funding streams.  The YJB had been consulting various stakeholders over the past 18 months in respect of the review of the funding formula across England and Wales and how a single funding formula for the grant and distribution of the same was done in a fair and equitable way and used to support the delivery against the three youth justice outcomes, namely reducing first time entrants, reoffending and the use of custody.  Accordingly, in August 2011 the YJB produced four options outlining how potential changes in the funding formula would impact on individual YOS.  The worst case scenario for the Council’s YOS was a reduction of £38,000 equivalent to approximately 16% of the YJB grant received.  Whilst the three other options indicated that the Council may benefit initially from additional grant funding, it was likely that this would be short lived as the proposed allocation outlined in the letter was based on historical data.  Since 2010 the Council’s YOS had invested heavily in prevention and early intervention which had resulted in the Vale’s YOS improvements in either keeping young people out of the Youth Justice system entirely or moving the offence trend toward lower level crimes which would have a detrimental impact on the amount of the funding received.  It was noted that the change in the funding formula was scheduled to be introduced in 2012/13 but had been delayed.

 

·                    Ministry of Justice / YJB – Payment by Results – the proposed introduction of payment by result had been delayed pending the review of the Youth Justice Grant being finalised.  However, the Ministry of Justice and the YJB were consulting with stakeholders about the introduction of payment by results by 2013/14.  Two proposals were included in the consultation exercise, namely to “top slice” a percentage of the YJB grant centrally, possibly by 10%, and distribute it to those YOS that improved the most; or to withhold a percentage of each YOS allocated grant and only issue this when the required performance had been met.  Indications during the consultation exercise were that YOS would only receive the withheld funding if they achieved performance in the top quartile across all three youth justice indicators.

 

·                    Ministry of Justice – Devolving the Cost of Youth Remands – Under Section 4(5)(k) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, the YJB could offer assistance to Local Authorities to discharge their duty to place a young person subject to a Court Ordered Secure Remand in either a secure children’s home or secure training centre.  As a result of this arrangement any young person ordered to be secured through the criminal courts could be placed via the YJB Placements Team and the Local Authority was charged one third of the cost of the bed price for the placement.

 

·                    The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) will introduce changes to the current remand arrangements and would have a significant impact on the Council including:

-               the transfer of financial responsibility for the cost of the whole remand to Local Authorities (YJB currently funded two thirds of the cost)

-               a new burden of responsibility for the cost of whole remand for young people placed in Young Offenders Institutes

-               any young person remanded would receive Looked After Child (LAC) status, with those remaining on remand for more than 13 weeks plus acquiring leaving care status.

 

The UK Government believed that by introducing stricter criteria for remand and devolving the entire cost of youth remands to individual Local Authorities, each area would be incentivised to prevent young people from entering custody. 

 

The proposed changes to Youth Remands were implemented on 3rd December 2012. 

 

·                    Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) – Prevention and Diversion – the YOS Prevention Service was grant funded and was at risk beyond 31st March 2013 for a number of reasons which were detailed in the report.  Currently the YOS received Home Office funding via the YJB in respect of prevention of offending and from 2013, this funding would be allocated to the PCC to distribute.  The Welsh Government provided grant funding to the Safer Vale Partnership in the form of Safe Communities Fund.  In 2012/13 this amounted to £188,576 of which the YOS received approximately £83,000, the Youth Services Target Community Prevention (detached outreach service) £70,000 and the Safer Vale ASB Unit £35,000. 

 

The Vale YOS in partnership with South Wales Police and Cardiff YOS operated a triage or diversionary service provision.  This Service was originally funded by the Home Office but when the funding ended, Cardiff YOS continued to operate the service in the Police Custody Suite utilising Safer Communities Funds (SCF) at no cost to the Council.  The scheme was at risk because both the SCF funding and YJB prevention funding were uncertain.

 

In addition to the above matters, the introduction of prevention and diversion services by the YOS demonstrated a significant reduction in numbers of young people entering the Youth Justice System, details of which were highlighted in paragraph 29 of the report.  The Committee were advised that any loss of either prevention or diversionary services could see a significant increase in the number of young people entering the Youth Justice System in the Vale of Glamorgan and consequently would result in poorer outcomes for children and young people, as well as having an adverse impact on the Council’s YOS performance with implications for both YJB grant and other funding received by the Service.

 

The Committee expressed concern in regard to the potential implications of the proposals for the YOS which, if realised, would have serious funding implications for the Council.  The good work of the service to date was acknowledged by the Committee and discussion ensued in respect of existing collaboration arrangements and future opportunities.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the report be referred to the Cabinet for their attention with a view to Cabinet being requested to write on behalf of the Council to the Minister of Justice and the Youth Justice Board expressing concern regarding the impact of the proposed legislative changes and the ensuing funding implications for the Council's Youth Offending Service.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To make Cabinet aware of the legislative changes and the consequential funding implications for the Council.”

 

 

 

Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection): 6th December, 2012

Share on facebook Like us on Facebook