Lord McNally, Chair of the Youth Justice Board (YJB), said:
Having carefully considered the responses received to the consultation on in-year budget reductions, the Youth Justice Board (YJB) has reluctantly decided to reduce the Youth Justice Grant paid to youth offending teams (YOTs) by £9m. This is as part of its efforts to make £13.5m of in-year budget reductions.
The YJB was required by the Secretary of State to make in-year budget reductions of £12m. This is in addition to a £1.5m shortfall in the YJB’s 2015/16 budget, which remains after a range of measures were taken to tackle a larger shortfall.
It consulted on proposed budget reductions in September and received 129 responses. The consultation outlined the limited options open to the organisation, as a result of efforts in recent years to protect the Youth Justice Grant by making reductions in spend to other areas of the system.
In addition to reducing the Youth Justice Grant, the YJB will delay by two months until April 2016 commencing the roll-out in Parc under-18 young offender institution (YOI) of the new behaviour management system used in youth custody called Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (MMPR).
There are also a number of other budget reductions achieved through underspends on staffing in YOIs, contractual efficiencies and measures employed by the YJB to reduce its internal costs to make up the £13.5m required.
YJB Chief Executive Lin Hinnigan said:
This has been an exceedingly difficult decision. We share the concerns of respondents to the consultation that reductions to the YOT grant will put the successes seen in the youth justice system - including the savings they have generated – at risk.
We also recognise that these budget reductions falling as they do in-year are going to be particularly difficult for the YOTs locally to manage and will ultimately impact on outcomes for some of the most vulnerable children in our society.
We are acutely aware of the impact these reductions are going to have on YOTs and in response to the requests made through the consultation will support them to minimise the impact.
To help support YOTs to minimise the impact of the cuts to the Youth Justice Grant, the YJB will be reducing the reporting burdens on YOTs for the rest of the financial year. It also plans to issue guidance to YOTs on mergers, and to explore removing ring-fencing of grants to enable YOTs to have more flexibility in managing their budgets.
In addition, HMI Probation has agreed to remove three of the proposed Short Quality Screening inspections scheduled to be carried out before January 2016. This will enable those YOTs which were due to be inspected to manage the impact of cuts without concurrently being subject to inspection.
The YJB has written to all YOTs to let them know about the in-year reduction in grant allocations and the support available to help them minimise the impact.
Notes to editors:
You can read the YJB’s consultation response online.
The YJB set this year’s budget in February 2015 against an anticipated cash allocation from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) of £241.3m. Prior to the Secretary of State’s decision to further reduce the YJB’s allocation, its confirmed allocation from MoJ was £229.1m, leaving a shortfall of £12.2m.
The YJB has managed this £12.2m shortfall reducing its budgetary pressure to £1.5m, before the Secretary of State’s decision to reduce the YJB’s allocation in the current financial year by a further £12m (5%) which was announced in July.
The YJB’s administrative budget, used to run the YJB and fulfil its statutory functions including making placements into secure accommodation, is around £8.5m.
Since 2009 the YJB has delivered savings of £287 million (or approximately 55%), reducing its budget from £516 million to £229 million. The number of young people in custody has fallen from 3,200 at its peak in 2002/3 to 971 in August 2015. This reduction has helped the YJB deliver these savings.
Last year the YJB took the difficult decision to decommission 360 places in the secure estate, the majority of which were at Hindley under-18 young offender institute and Hassockfield secure training centre to reduce its budget by £20m. These reductions were made in an attempt to protect the Youth Justice Grant.