MONEY which should be being spent on funding local youth work may not be being spent as it should, says a Wiltshire councillor who worries that Local Youth Grants awarded by Wiltshire’s Area Boards are not being given out as they are intended.

Cllr Jon Hubbard, chairman of the Children’s Select Committee, believes the rules for the funding are not made entirely clear to councillors and as such funding isn’t achieving what it can.

Now he is heading up a new scrutiny task group on Local Youth Funding, Cllr Hubbard hopes to look closely at how these grants have been awarded and their criteria.

Cllr Hubbard said: “I have to be honest, there are some concerns that the funding isn’t necessarily always being used in the manner to which it was intended.

“What we want to do is we want to work with officers, we want to look at how that is being used, do some research into what is happening in various area boards and make recommendations about how that funding is distributed and what the guidelines are on what they can spend it on.”

He says a good example of the confusion is a grant awarded at the last Corsham Area Board meeting in January.

The Portable Wellbeing Studio – a mobile art studio which also gives mental health support to young – was granted £980 towards a six-week residency at Corsham primary school.

This breaches the rules set out for Local Youth Funding, as the money is not intended to be used for children under 13 or to support any in-school projects.

Local Youth Funding, which was brought in to comply with the Children’s Act (2004) states that “each area board has funding to support projects that provide positive activities for young people aged 13 to 19 and those aged up to 25 years with special educational needs and/or disabilities”.

A ‘positive activity’ can be anything educational or recreational which helps young people achieve a healthy and safe lifestyle.

Cllr Hubbard said: “Whilst it’s important that we do deliver services for primary children, this specific funding is for children aged 13-19.”

The concerns raised by Cllr Hubbard places an emphasis on the quality of information and guidance given to councillors dealing with these applications and if the wording for the criteria is reflecting the goals the funding is intended to accomplish.

New applications are now reviewed by a community engagement manager, to then be considered by the Local Youth Network, made up of young people and support members such as local councillors. These decisions are then ratified by councillors at each area board meeting.

Cllr Hubbard said: “This came about from the changes to the youth service, they shut down the old service and put in the new community model.

“We’re five or six years into that now and there’s a lot of learning we can take on board. It might be time to look at how funding is distributed, to look at how we can get better value out of that money.”

How the grants are awarded will be one issue the newly formed task group will make recommendations on but would then it would be up to the executive to implement.

Cllr Hubbard added: “We need to find a way to improve on how this information is delivered. Let’s concentrate on how we can make things better rather than thrown stones at how things have been done in the past.

“The council invests £340,000 in its young people and we don’t want to lose that funding we just want to use it as effectively as we can.”