Case study: Youth Connect South West and Bath and North East Somerset Council
Updated: Apr 15
Client: Bath and North East Somerset Council
Date: September 2017 - November 2019
Challenges faced by the client: The Youth
Connect service re-structured in October 2018, following a significant reduction in funding from the council. This reduction was in addition to previous cuts sustained by the service. The cumulative effect of these reductions significantly impacted on the service’s ability to deliver open access and early help/targeted support.
In addition, the lack of flexibility and decision making autonomy experienced by the service limited its ability to make timely decisions, allocate resource according to need and generate new income streams.
Staff were committed to reversing this trend of managed decline, instead focusing on a blueprint that would empower the service to do things differently, promote needs-led innovation and operate in a different way with third sector partners. Consultations strongly indicate that communities were concerned about the reduction in services, while also identifying how existing youth hubs could be used in more effective and innovative ways.
The service’s leadership team requested the support of council commissioners and elected members to explore a new delivery model. Following an extensive business planning exercise, a procurement process and implementation stage, Youth Connect was established in November 2019 as a public service mutual and registered charity.
Support offered: Our initial support focused on supporting the service and council to explore the feasibility of a mutual. The service had identified the mutual option was their preferred option, but required external validation to confirm whether the option was desirable, viable and feasible from the perspectives of the council, service and communities.
Once confirmed, Mutual Ventures supported the service to develop their business plan, involving the following main stages:
Supporting the development of the mutual’s vision, mission and values
Undertaking market research to identify and test new funding/income generating opportunities. Developing a robust and evidence based growth strategy to demonstrate how the service could remain sustainable once independent of the council
Supporting the service and Council to explore various legal forms, governance structures and contract management arrangements
Designing the service’s future operating model, including staffing structures, property, support services, ICT and pensions arrangements
The development of a prudent and evidence based financial model, including sensitivity analysis to test the viability and sustainability of the proposal
The development of a fully costed implementation plan
Engagement with council commissioners and elected members throughout the process, in addition to work with the council’s finance team, ensuring that key stakeholders were able to review the service’s proposals
Outcome achieved: Youth Connect South West established as a mutual with charitable status in November 2019 after securing a 5 year contract with the council.
The service quickly commenced delivering services to young people through next contracts with town and parish councils, while implementing plans to maximise income generated at their main building /youth hub which was leased from the council.
Tracy Pike, Chief Executive for Youth Connect South West, said:
"A highly skilled organisation with good people. Mutual Ventures brought experience of becoming a PSM to the table, understood our organisation and where we wanted to be in the future, helping us develop the model and vision for the future. They helped keep us on track through the feasibility and business planning stages. Overall a really good experience."