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Case study: Devon County Council and DYS Space

Updated: Apr 15, 2021

Date: September 2014 – June 2018

Challenges faced by the client: While part of Devon County Council, the youth service budget reduced from £3.8m in 2013/14 to £1.675 in April 2016. This necessitated the deletion of approximately 130 full and part time posts, resulting in a significant amount of turbulence and change across the service.

The management and staff group adapted to new roles and demands, ensuring that the service could continue to provide open access and targeted services.

While the restructured service was able to deliver services, staff felt that an alternative delivery model would allow the service to innovate, access new sources of funding and establish meaningful relationships with a range of public and VCSE partners.

With the support of Devon County Council, the service explored a range of delivery models. An options appraisal identified a Public Service Mutual (PSM) as the optimum model, based on the desires of staff, young people, the council and a range of community partners.

Support offered:

MV worked with the service and Devon County Council to establish a new model by:

  • Undertaking an extensive business planning exercise - defining the new organisation’s vision, mission and values, and type of services that would be delivered. The business plan demonstrated the financial viability and sustainability of the proposed PSM.

  • Developing a social impact and social value framework - this demonstrated the aspirations of the service, in terms of improving the lives of young people, families and communities

  • Supporting the senior leadership team to develop the spin-out’s tender response to the Council’s public procurement exercise.

  • Transition planning and implementation to ensure a smooth transfer of staff, assets, contracts and delivery responsibilities to the new organisation.

Following the establishment of DYS Space, Mutual Ventures has supported the service to develop and implement a growth strategy, funded through Big Potential grant funding (Big Lottery). This work supported the PSM to identify and develop a range of strategy partnerships and grow in a sustainable way, with a key focus on ensuring that growth continues to be aligned to the charity’s vision and values.

Outcome achieved: DYS Space established as an independent Public Service Mutual with charitable status in June 2016. In March 2020 the charity re-secured their core contract with Devon County Council, ensuring that the spin-out will continue to deliver youth services for the next 3 to 5 years.

Two years after establishing as a PSM, the DYS Space Chief Executive identified the following main benefits associated with operating an independent service:

  • The most important tangible benefit has been the increased resources for young people we have been able to lever into the County. During the first 18 months we have attracted over £200,000 of resources we couldn’t have accessed had we remained in the local authority.

  • We currently have in excess of £300,000 worth of bids pending decision - none of which we could previously have applied for.

  • We are engaged with 12 new external partnerships / contracts.

  • We have boosted the local economy by buying local. Cheaper and more efficient.

  • We employed 76 people at Feb 2017 - we now employ 90 (including 3 apprentices). Up 18% while most youth services are reducing workforces.

  • We have more volunteers - not just youth workers. They tell us they prefer to donate their time and efforts to a charity rather than a council run service.

  • Per person, average sick days have dropped from 16.4 per person to 6.3 per person post-spin out.

  • We have greater flexibility to match recruitment / staffing structure to the needs of the organisation now. Also turn around time to fill vacancies has more than halved, enabling greater consistency of delivery.

Kev Henman, Chief Executive of DYS Space, said:

“We were fortunate enough to partner with Mutual Ventures. We found every aspect of their service relevant, useful, thought provoking and appropriately challenging. We wouldn't have succeeded without MV - of that I'm in no doubt.”


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