Funding to Kingston’s youth services could be cut over the next two years, according to the council’s proposed budget.
With a drop in central Government grants Kingston Council is looking to spend £50,000 less next year on youth services, and nearly £100,000 less the year after.
The council spent £1.73m on youth services last year, up nearly £60,000 from the year before, but plans to stop directly employing staff and pay other organisations to do the work instead.
It currently runs seven youth centres, employing 12 youth workers including three at senior level.
Councillor Rolson Davies, lead member for finance and resources, said: “There are organisations out there doing strong youth work.
“The running costs are a direct saving on the council taxpayer. The other saving of course is in costs of staff.
“Pension scheme in particular is a big drain when it comes to council staff costs. It’s a shame to say this, but people are the largest cost to the organisation.”
Laurie South, chairman of the Kingston Labour Party, said: “What politician would say, ‘we’re cutting this provision’? They’re simply putting a spin and a gloss on it – if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.”
Jonathan Melville-Thomas, director for children and youth work at YMCA London South West, said contracting out services could be a positive step.
He said: “I think that it’s something which people are beginning to realise, that not everything has to be done by the council.
“The voluntary sector has a lot of experience and a lot of very skilled youth workers who, when they put their minds together, can really do something good.”
John Trend, director of youth work charity Oxygen, said: “I would be very concerned at any drop in funding that’s targeted at supporting young people, especially given the impact that things like the benefit cap is going to have on families.
“You’re talking about relationships with young people that take five or six years to develop, and it’s that relationship that you lose when you lose a member of staff.”
Overall Kingston Council plans to save about £10m in the next financial year.