Proposed changes to the Council's youth support services

Closed 8 Jan 2016

Opened 2 Nov 2015


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By 2017 our funding from government will have been cut in half. We have already made £93 million in efficiency savings across the Council between 2011 and 2015, while continuing to deliver quality services to local people, build new homes and get young people into work.

Now further cuts to government funding alongside other social pressures – including an ageing population and continual increases in the cost of living – have left us with a budget gap of £73 million to plug by 2018. With more cuts almost certainly around the corner, we have a savings programme of £75 million in place.

We have to make tough choices about local services and, to help us meet our savings targets, we are proposing to make changes to the youth support services we provide.

The Camden Plan sets out the Council’s ambitions to continue to support Camden residents and bring partners together to think of new ways to deliver public services:

The changes we are proposing to our youth support services are based on the priorities set out in the Camden Plan. The proposals aim to ensure that the services we provide are focused on those most in need.

We want your views on our proposed changes to our youth support services. We will use your responses to inform the changes we make to services.

We currently provide four youth support services to young people aged eight to 25:

• Youth Offending Service (YOS) – works with young people aged 10 to 18 who have committed an offence or are in danger of doing so

• Youth services and projects – offer a range of programmes and activities to develop young people’s skills and confidence

• Connexions services – provide careers advice for young people and support them to avoid becoming unemployed or not in education or training (NEET)

• Forward (FWD), a substance misuse service.

We have a legal duty to provide youth services that encourage young people to participate in activities that have positive outcomes, such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards. We are required to make sure young people are participating in education, employment or training until they are 18. We also have to provide a youth offending team which works to prevent children and young people from offending and entering the youth justice system for the first time.

Increasing the number of young people in education, employment or training in Camden is an important priority for us, so we also work with other organisations to offer activities which we do not have a legal duty to provide – for example, Camden Summer University, which offers free courses to young people across the borough during the summer holidays.

We work closely with the voluntary and community sector to offer young people in Camden the best youth support services.

Over the last four years our youth support services have worked with partner organisations to help:

• more young people to gain awards and qualifications, such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

• more young people to enter education, employment and training via our Connexions service.

We currently have six Council-run youth centres, while voluntary and community sector organisations are funded by us to run 15 youth centres and projects in Camden. These centres offer support to all young people in the borough.

On average, we invest approximately £5 million in youth support services, which provide positive activities and work to reduce levels of crime in the borough as well as increase the number of young people in education, employment and training. These continue to be priority areas for us and therefore we have decided to continue to invest £3.4 million in providing youth support services.

About this consultation

This consultation is on proposed changes to our youth support services which would deliver savings of £1.6 million. However, the changes we are proposing aren’t just about making savings. We have spoken to frontline staff, young people and youth support experts who have told us that we can do more to improve the way we support young people who have additional needs* at an early stage. 

So our proposals aim to support those young people who need help as early as possible to prevent their problems from escalating and having a negative impact on their lives.

* When we refer to additional needs, we mean young people who live in an area of high deprivation, regularly miss school, have special educational needs and disabilities, are teenage parents, looked after by the Council, not in education, employment or training or at risk of becoming homeless or being involved in crime and antisocial behaviour.


Why your views matter

Given the scale of our financial challenge, we are proposing to focus our youth support services on young people with the greatest need. Evidence shows that working with young people with the greatest need at an early stage prevents issues from escalating and reduces the cost of support services. This would mean that there would be fewer Council-run youth services available to all young people, and many services would be open less often. However, we would work with the voluntary and community sector to provide youth support services for all young people. We currently fund 15 youth projects provided by the voluntary and community sector.

We are proposing to redevelop three of our Council-run youth centres so that young people with additional needs can receive a broader range of support in one location. These three centres would be:

• Somers Town Youth Centre, in Somers Town

• Fresh Youth Academy, in Highgate

• Kilburn Youth Station, in Kilburn.

Each of the three centres would offer youth support services targeted at young people with additional needs*. These youth support services would include Connexionsservices, substance misuse support and youth activities and programmes.

The development of the three youth sites would have the following impacts on other Council-run youth services:

a) TheSouth Camden Youth & Connexions Access Point in King’s Cross would close. Youth support services here would relocate to Somers TownYouth Centre in Somers Town.

b) The Gospel Oak Youth Access Point in Queen’s Crescent would close. Youth support services here would relocate to Maitland Park Gym and Fresh Youth Academy, in Highgate.

c) TheSeven O’Clock Club for disabled young people aged 13 to 25 would move from Pirate Castle to one of the three redeveloped youth centres.

The COO-L project

We are proposing to stop funding the COO-L project, but make it easier for young people to find out about low-cost activities in Camden that are already partially funded by us. The COO-L project gives young people money to participate in activities if they are in school years nine to 11 (typically aged 13 to 16), and are eligible for free school meals. We are proposing to stop funding COO-L, as evidence tells us that most of the activities booked through the COO-L project are already low-cost because they are partially-funded by other areas of the Council.

Youth Action Group

We are proposing to make changes to the Youth Action Group (YAG) but continue to work with members of the group to improve youth support services. The YAG is a group of young people who give out small grants to youth-led projects and represent the views of young people about youth support services in their local areas. We are proposing that the group continues to be consulted on and involved in the development of young people’s services, but would no longer be responsible for giving out small grants to their local projects and services. We would support YAG members to work with Camden’s Youth Council and Youth MP to identify other funding opportunities.


We are proposing to reduce the Connexions service but it would still run in our three main youth centres and would also be provided directly by Camden schools, which are required to offer their students careers, education, information, advice and guidance. Connexions services focus on young people most at risk of becoming unemployed, or not in education and training, include those with learning difficulties or disabilities, looked-after young people and young offenders.

Under 25s Advice Centre

We are proposing to stop funding the Under 25s Advice Centre, which offers confidential advice and information on welfare benefits, housing and employment. We would work with the voluntary and community sector to continue to support the young people who currently use the Under 25s Advice Centre. We would also continue to provide welfare rights support to young people through the Connexions services in the three centres.

Alternative proposals

We considered delivering both targeted youth support services and those open to all young people via voluntary and private sector providers. However, evidence suggests that we can have the greatest impact on young people’s lives by focusing on those with the greatest need. Our targeted work in youth support services has reduced the number of young people entering the criminal justice system for the first time and has supported the most vulnerable young people to achieve positive outcomes.

We considered charging for youth support services. However, introducing charges would mean that young people from families on the lowest incomes may not be able to access programmes that provide the opportunity to achieve accreditations or open doors to further support.

In addition to the consultation questions that we are seeking your responses to, which you can complete by clicking on the link below, we are holding a series of events for young people, parents, Council staff such as social workers, voluntary and community sector organisations and other organisations, such as the police and schools. We will hold local meetings with residents likely to be affected by the proposed changes. We will also use online web tools and other creative methods to get the views of young people.

Council staff will be consulted on any changes to job roles after this consultation closesand once a final Cabinet decision has been made on the future of the services.

A final decision on changes to these services is expected to be made by Camden Council’s Cabinet on 6 April 2016.

For more information about the proposals, and local meetings

What happens next

We will use your responses to inform the changes we make to services.


  • All Areas


  • Young people


  • Community and living