Young people in Norfolk to get key role in spending on youth services

Young people are to be given a key role in deciding how to spend what money is available in Norfolk to provide youth services.

Through its Big Conversation consultation aimed at saving �155m over the next three years, Norfolk County Council last year controversially decided to decommission its youth service completely.

The council now plans to create seven Youth Advisory Boards in each district across Norfolk which will steer and commission youth work.

Once those boards are in place, they will get �45,000 a year to spend on what youth services are needed in their districts - and the council has made clear they want the decison making to be led by young people.

Membership will also include organisations with responsibility for young people, the police, health bosses, elected county councillors, voluntary groups and representatives from district, town and parish councils.

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The council plans to contract an external organisation or organisations to provide qualified youth and community workers to support those boards, using �50,000 a year.

But before they are up and running in the new year, the council has created a new Youth Innovation Fund, with communities invited to bid for a share of �150,000.

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Decisions on funding will be made by a panel including young people and representatives of the county council, district councils, police, health and Momentum - formerly the Norfolk Council for Voluntary Youth Services.

A separate �250,000 Youth Transition Fund has also been created to support groups already working with young people, who have been affected by the closure of the county council's youth service.

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children's services, said: 'Our Youth Advisory Boards will be running in the New Year but in the meantime we need to ensure that communities have the capacity to continue to deliver activities and explore new opportunities that can meet the specific needs of their young people.

'That is why we are providing these one off funds – to ensure that there isn't a gap over the coming months and that communities have the chance to begin to develop new, sustainable projects.

'We believe the new way of delivering youth provision, via YABs, will empower local communities to ensure that there are activities and support in place that best meets local need. We want young people to play a crucial role in this new approach – steering some of the decisions and making it clear what they need and how the community can support them.'

The Liberal Democrats had sought assurances that all political groups would be invited to sit on the boards and Mrs Thomas assured that they would.

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