Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Questions (534)

Regina Doherty


534. Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the steps she is taking to protect, enhance and develop youth work services, in particular those run by Foróige in County Meath; if she will commit to ringfencing the funding these services receive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30289/13]

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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.

In 2013, funding amounting to €5,930,009 was allocated to Foróige to support a wide range of activities including educational projects, leadership programmes and other support services for some 56,000 young people throughout the country. The funding includes an amount of some €300,000 which Foróige, following earlier discussions with my Department, has reprioritised to strengthen its Big Brother Big Sister youth mentoring programme which is also funded by Foróige’s philanthropic partners.

The savings required under the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure in respect of 2013 amounted to €5.393m on 2012 funding available for the provision of youth services and in 2014 a further savings of €2.97m is required in the youth budget.

My Department has tried to be as equitable as possible in achieving these savings and to ensure that, in the determination process for the allocations, the front line youth services, particularly those for the most vulnerable young people are protected as far as is possible from the impact of any necessary reductions in funding. 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.

Officials from my Department have recently met with Foróige about the organisation's plans for the future of the Big Brother, Big Sister programme having regard to the challenging funding situation that the programme faces from 2014 onwards on account of the cessation of philanthropic funding.

My Department continues to work with Foróige to assist in devising an expenditure and funding strategy that can support the long term sustainability of this programme.

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.