Young people in Hertfordshire will no longer have a voice on the UK Youth Parliament – unless a sponsor can be found.

In previous years Hertfordshire County Council – through YC Hertfordshire – have made cash available for a small group of young people to sit on the body.

But – following cuts to the YC Hertfordshire budget – it has emerged that will no longer be the case.

In future the only way that Hertfordshire young people could continue would be if external funding could be found

“The service will seek external funding to support participation with the UK Youth Parliament,” said a report to the county council’s children, young people and families cabinet panel, on Tuesday (November 6).

“But without this will not be able to sustain the intensive staffing needs and high unit cost of supporting relatively few young people to become members of the youth parliament.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Robin Parker told the meeting of the panel, on Tuesday (November 6), that the UK Youth Parliament was good opportunity for young people to see democratic practices.

He said it would be “a great pity” for young people from the county not to get the chance to take part.

Cllr Teresa Heritage, executive member for children, young people and families, said she was still keen to find a different way to fund the scheme.

She suggested local political parties may consider sponsoring young people to take part.

She said a lack of resources had already meant the county had not been represented on the Youth Parliament for a number of months.

In the past, she suggested, feedback from young people had suggested the parliament could be metropolitan focussed – leaving them to feel that the voice of Hertfordshire wasn’t as relevant to it.

This year, 2018/19, the YC Hertfordshire service has had to make 10 per cent of savings. And now they are planning to remodel the service further to cut a further 10 per cent in 2019/20.

It currently costs around £35,000 to fund a group of around ‘five or six’ people to take part in the UK Youth Parliament.

Although, says the report, the focus has been on protecting front-line services, there will now need to be a reduction in the number of youth work projects.

Members of the cabinet panel heard that the opening hours of the ‘access points’ around the county are expected to be reduced.

During 2017/18, 22,334 young people – aged between 11 and 24 – accessed services offered by YC Hertfordshire

According to the report, services – which will be extended to include 11 and 12 year olds – will be increasingly targeted on those groups that are at greatest risk or in greatest need.

The service will also look for external funding in other areas, which could include delivery of National Citizen Service, careers guidance in schools and colleges, work-related learning, preventative programmes and community safety.