Popular Edinburgh youth centre could be forced to close clubs over 'shocking' cut to funding

The centre is facing a funding cut of £125,000.
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A popular Edinburgh youth centre is facing a ‘shocking’ reduction in funding from the council leaving the future of its vital services uncertain.

The Citadel in Leith could see its money slashed by £125,000 – with just three months notice. It comes after the council has proposed an award of £50,000 for 2024 for three years, down from the current grant of £175,000.

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Willy Barr who has been manager of the Centre for 21 years warned the decision will mean it could be forced to close some youth clubs, which help keep youngsters off the street and overcome challenges in their lives.

Willy Barr, Manager at the Citadel has long fought against cuts to youth work servicesWilly Barr, Manager at the Citadel has long fought against cuts to youth work services
Willy Barr, Manager at the Citadel has long fought against cuts to youth work services

Speaking to the Evening News Mr Barr said: “This news has come as a huge disappointment. We expected a cut from our current annual grant of £175,000 per year, but reduction of £125,000 has been way more than we anticipated and will now seriously impact on the services and supports we offer to the local community. We will be able to run our services until March but after the East holidays it looks uncertain. We could have to look at closing some clubs. We’re looking at how to find the funds. I’m asking the council to reconsider or at least, give us a one-off payment to cushion the blow.”

"Parents are really upset. We have some young people at our services whose parents used to come along. They want to tell the council the impact this cut will have on young people, families and the local community. The Citadel is more than a youth centre to people.”

Mr Barr has written to council chiefs asking them for a one-off additional payment to help buy time to make up for the losses. He said: “I appreciate that the Council is faced with severe budget pressures, but a reduction of £125,405 in one go (with only three months notice) will have a severe impact. It's a major concern that the committee has not viewed an Impact Assessment before agreeing to this level of cut in funding to a longstanding local service. The lack of an Impact Assessment goes against the recommendations of the Education, Children and Families Committee in their ‘Lessons Learnt from Review of Revenue Grants Programme’

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He also raised concerns about ‘confusing’ reasons given for why information about the grant awards has not been made public. He said the decision to withhold this information from the public is “unprecedented and goes against the ongoing practice of other CEC committees.” An email response on concerns raised by Mr Barr about a lack of transparency on the funding awards said it was to avoid putting ‘elected members in a difficult position’.

The decision to cut Citadel funds was taken at Education, Children and Families Meeting in December 2023. It was agreed to make awards as recommended in the report (unavailable in the Public Document Pack) to sixty-eight organisations listed, plus awards to two additional voluntary organisations who were not required to submit an application.

Local MP Deidrie Brock said: “I’m very concerned by this news. A funding cut of this size will have profound effects on the ability of the Citadel Youth Centre to continue to provide anything like the level of amazing services and support to vulnerable individuals and families in Leith they provide now. I find it shocking there has been no dialogue with any of the organisations involved, no impact assessment of the consequences of this cut in funding and by the wholesale lack of transparency throughout the grant process.”

Councillor Joan Griffiths, Convener for Education, Children and Families at the City of Edinburgh Council, said:

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“Our Connected Communities Edinburgh grants programme tackles the impact of poverty on children, families and communities across all communities in Edinburgh.

“The quality of applications for the grants programme was extremely high with many creative and well-presented submissions. In total we had funding bids of £16.7m from our available budget of £10m over the three years. This meant not everyone who made submissions would receive the funding they asking for however we will support those organisations who have been impacted to apply for alternative funding streams.

“These grants, which includes 19 new organisations, will benefit vulnerable and disadvantaged young people and their families in Edinburgh. We will of course continue to monitor the progress of the funding over the coming three years to ensure the outcomes promised for our communities are being delivered.”

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