Connexions on track despite funding problems

Connexions partnerships are making good progress helping young
people into work and education and are improving their advice and
guidance services, according to the National Audit Office (NAO),
writes Kendra Inman.

But a lack of resources means the service may not be reaching as
many young people as planned, said inspectors.

In its report, the NAO called for Connexions to be placed on a
firmer financial footing with a switch to three-year funding
mechanisms to allow more effective planning.

There are fears that Connexions budgets will be further
undermined by a change to VAT regulations which comes into effect
this month. In future, partnerships will be unable to recover VAT
they incur buying services, children’s minister Margaret Hodge told
the Commons.

“We are asking Partnerships to look at improving their tax
efficiency by moving to different structures where they feel this
is appropriate,” she said. 

Meanwhile, the National Association of Connexions Partnerships
(NACP) welcomed the NAO report as proof that partnerships are
making a difference to young peoples’ lives.

The NAO found that, as of November 2003, the proportion of
16-18-year-olds not in education, employment or training had been
reduced by eight per cent where the service had been established
the longest.

Nationally, this amounted to a three per cent reduction to this
date and the Connexions Partnerships were confident that the
government-set target of 10 per cent will be achieved by November

The NAO also found the service was well-regarded by users. However,
inspectors said there is a risk Connexions may not reach as many
young people as originally intended.

Tight budgets mean partnerships have employed fewer personal
advisers than expected.

Inspectors’ recommendations include local and regional
targets for reducing the number of young people not in education,
employment or training and a clear target date for the majority of
personal advisers to have completed Connexions-specific

The NAO also called for better analysis of results so that
resources can be allocated more effectively, and the development of
performance indicators for the full range of services.

Report executive summary

Full report

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