Thursday, 30 May 2013

Questions (260)

Willie Penrose

Question:

260. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will ensure that the organisations that are involved in youth work, for which funding is vital, and for which funding has already been cut by 30%, should not be subject to further and additional expenditure adjustments in light of a reduction of 10% forecast for 2014; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that if Big Brother, Big Sister programme, which is an extremely important youth mentoring programme, incurs further funding losses, it will eventually close, despite being an extremely cost-effective programme which is volunteer led; if she will ensure that no further cuts are implemented in 2014; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26584/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The Youth Affairs Unit of my Department provides a range of funding schemes, programmes and supports to the youth sector. Funding of some €53.498m is available in 2013 to support the provision of youth services and programmes to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. Targeted supports for disadvantaged, marginalised and at risk young people are provided through the Special Projects for Youth Scheme, the Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund Rounds 1 and 2 and Local Drugs Task Force Projects. These funding schemes support national and local youth work provision to some 400,000 young people and involve approximately 1,400 paid staff and 40,000 volunteers working in youth work services and communities throughout the country.

In 2013, my Department's Youth Affairs Unit will provide total funding to Foróige of €5.93 million.

Programme

Amount in 2013

Youth Service Grant Scheme

€2,651,154

Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund (1 & 2)

€1,195,283

Special Project for Youth

€2,083,572

Total

€5,930,009

This total does not include local youth clubs grants, funded by my Department, but allocated to local clubs by; and at the discretion of local VECs.

This total does not include funding provided to Foróige with respect to Garda youth diversion projects or funding from other state agencies such as the HSE.

The savings required under the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure in respect of 2013 amounted to €5.393m which equated to almost a 10% reduction on 2012 funding available for the provision of youth services. The savings required in 2014 in the youth budget under the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure amount to €2.976m. Having regard to the savings requirements identified in the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure my Department has tried to be as equitable as possible in achieving these savings. In considering how best to manage within the reduced budgets available, organisations are being asked to consider the scope for reducing administration costs and overheads, if this is at all possible, in order to maintain the front line youth services for young people. I have met, and continue to meet with, many youth organisations and groups to try and see how we can work together to minimise the impact of these necessary savings in order to ensure that the provision of quality youth services to young people is sustained in these challenging times.

In 2011, Foróige, following an internal review of the organisation’s wide range of provision for young people, reprioritised its areas of youth provision and programmes. This reprioritisation, which was proposed to my Department, enabled Foróige to strengthen their Big Brother Big Sister (BBBS) Programme nationally. Foróige decided, with the permission of my Department, to reallocate the funding provided by my Department from their Youth Information services to the Big Brother Big Sister Programme. Additional funding was also provided by my Department to Foróige for the Big Brother Big Sister Programme in 2012 and 2013. While I fully appreciate the value of the Big Brother Big Sister Programme and the challenges facing it in the current fiscal climate, given the savings required within my Department's budget under the CRE, I do not envisage any further scope for the provision of any further increase on the funding already provided to Foróige.

A comprehensive Value for Money and Policy Review of youth funding has been commenced in my Department and it is anticipated that the findings of this report will inform the future development of youth programmes and services. My Department is developing a new youth policy framework for publication later this year. The new youth policy framework will aim to enhance the provision of youth services and activities and it will, inter alia, promote co-ordination between government departments and youth sector organisations with a view to maximising the effectiveness of the State funding available to support services for young people in future years.