Connexions on track despite cash 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. But a
lack of resources means that 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 that comes into effect
this month. In future, partnerships will be unable to recover VAT
incurred buying services, children’s minister Margaret Hodge
told the House of 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
welcomed the the 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 to
18-year-olds not in education, employment or training had been
reduced by 8 per cent in areas where the service had been
established the longest and 3 per cent

in all areas. Connexions partnerships were confident that the
government target of 10 per cent would be achieved by November

The report 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 means
partnerships have employed fewer personal advisers than

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 most personal
advisers to have completed Connexions training.

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