Youth Zones ‘worth £2 for every £1 invested’

A chain of state-of the-art youth facilities is delivering £2 of social benefits for every £1 spent on operating costs, researchers have claimed.

Youth Zones were found to deliver returns of £2 for every £1 invested  A study commissioned by youth charity OnSide, which establishes large “Youth Zone” centres for 8- to 19-year-olds, found that the average annual cost of operating them was £1.31m but they deliver an average “social value” of £2.66m.  Onside said the research it commissioned used the latest social impact measurement tools that are consistent with those used by HM Treasury.  The charity currently has six Youth Zones, with two more set to open in 2016 and a further 12 in the pipeline.

The evaluation report, which looked into the costs and financial benefits of three centres in Greater Manchester, argues that return on taxpayers’ money is even higher because local authorities only cover 40 per cent of the running costs, with 50 per cent coming from the private sector, and 10 per cent from the facilities themselves.

It found that, on average the return on local authority investment was £6.66 for every £1 spent.  The Youth Zone in Wigan was found to have the greatest return on investment with £8.70 of benefits for every £1 spent by the local authority.  Benefits were found to include health and wellbeing improvements, and reductions in crime and antisocial behaviour, and improved school attendance.  The study results come just weeks after questions were raised about the ability of youth services to show evidence of their impact.

Kathryn Morley, chief executive of OnSide Youth Zones, said it is good to have the “life-changing impact Youth Zones have on young people and their communities” quantified by research.
“The report highlights the importance of providing a safe environment for young people to engage in activities that develop the personal and social skills that will serve them well as they progress through education into adulthood and the world of work,” she said.
“It also demonstrates how well-suited our multi-sector funding model is to the current climate, delivering strong social return on investment for local authority funding as well as influencing further savings across a range of public sector services.”


Source: CYP Now