LAST-minute funding will keep doors open at U-Turn for another year, but the program could be severely cut unless it can find more than $300,000 in corporate sponsorship.
Premier Lara Giddings yesterday announced a one-off grant of $600,000 to keep the youth justice program running for the next 12 months - significantly less than the $860,000 a year funding it lost and the $930,000 it costs to run.
Ms Giddings said a long-term decision on funding would not be made until after a review of all youth justice programs in Tasmania was completed at the end of the year.
The program has put 40 young offenders, particularly car thieves, through a 10-week mechanics course each year for the past decade.
Each group presents a restored car to a victim of car theft.
A quarter of participants have come from Northern Tasmania to live in a Mission Australia-funded house in Hobart during the course, but that could be cut.
"We can run something for $600,000, but not to the extent that we are doing now," Mission Australia state director Noel Mundy said.
"So depending on the support we have got we might still have to cut the Northern contingent."
Mr Mundy said 80 per cent of U-turn graduates did not return to serious crime, 60 per cent did not commit any more car or driving offences and 10 per cent find work.
He said it had been frustrating to wait five months for funding.
Nine staff had been issued redundancy letters and were ready to shut up the Moonah workshop on Friday before yesterday's announcement.
In May the Liberal Party promised $500,000 a year for four years to the program, a promise Police Minister David O'Byrne maintained yesterday was "insufficient to maintain the integrity of the program".
Opposition police spokeswoman Elise Archer has accused the government of doing a "U-turn on U-turn" and branded the 12-month stopgap funding a "short-term political fix".