As the Deputy is aware the annual Estimates process for 2020 is ongoing. It would therefore not be appropriate for me to comment on the specific matter mentioned at this time as funding for the provision of youth services in 2020, amongst other areas, remains under discussion and is ultimately subject to the final outcome of this process.
I have enhanced investment in youth service provision each year since I took office, increasing current funding for youth services by an additional €8.5 million in the last three years. This represents an increase of 16% compared to 2016 . Included in this funding under the Youth Service Grant Scheme has increased by almost 10% since 2016, rising to €11.126m in 2019.
In addition, I have taken on board the findings of the Value for Money and Policy Review of Youth Programmes. I am prioritising the implementation of an integrated funding scheme as recommended by this Review. Consultations with a wide range of stakeholders are continuing with a view to introducing this targeted youth funding scheme as soon as possible.
In 2019, my Department has funding of €60.4 million that is being deployed across a broad range of programmes supporting the provision of youth services throughout the country, with a specific focus on services in communities in areas considered to be disadvantaged based on the deprivation index. With the invaluable assistance of each Education and Training Boards and national organisations, the funding from my Department supports national and local youth programmes involving approximately 1,400 youth work staff working in communities across the country, as well as some 1,500 youth clubs nationally.