Friday, 17 December 2010


The “new realism” I referred to last week has continued into this week. A draft budget was approved by a sub group of our Trustees and will go forward to the full Trustees on 8 February. It is a deficit budget, proposing that we draw heavily on reserves. We know this is unsustainable and so have strategy for the future……which I’m not disclosing! Many voluntary organizations will be in the same position.

The calendar year 2011 will be a crucial one for voluntary organizations providing support services in Surrey, for whilst Surrey CC is helpfully maintaining its core funding in 2011/12, there will be a reduction of 30-35% in 2012/13, and so we have to take on this challenge to regain revenue, and/or reduce costs.

However, we will be positive about what we have to do, not least in focusing tightly on what our members want. The good news from our members ‘satisfaction survey is that 93% of respondents are either very satisfied or satisfied with our services. This survey gives us a bench mark from which to improve further.

And this brings me too to the Surrey County Council’s Public Value Review of its Services for Young People, which is going to their Cabinet for approval on 21 December, and about which I am on BBC Radio Surrey at 8.00 am on Monday morning. A pithy summary is that it is proposed to:
  • move to an outcomes based commissioning model based on an assessment of needs,
  • transfer the management of the 35 youth centres to the voluntary sector so that use of the buildings can be enhanced by the voluntary sector bringing in extra services
  • decentralize some £2.5mill budget funding to the eleven  County Council Local Committees, so that they can commission what is needed locally
  • move the flagship Outdoor learning Centre to an arm’s length trading unit  and eventually to become a social enterprise basis. 
My view is that these are mostly fairly bold but desirable changes, consistent with the emphasis on Decentralisation and Localism reflected in the Government’s important Bill of this name published this week. The move to a commissioning model is not unusual, but it will be a challenge to define outcomes in a credible way.

Turning to other matters we are running a one day Faiths in Action workshop on Wednesday 23 February so that young people and adults of different faiths can talk about what their faith means to them. Details are on our website and a booking form will be available in the first week of January.

This is my last day at work until 4 January ….I have to write two long essays over Christmas for my MA Theology, so apart from the usual Christmas family events, carols,  and friendship I will be busy typing away in the university library …but in truth I enjoy it hugely!

Have relaxing and enjoyable Christmas and New Year


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