A new cross-party report calls for the Government to act now to secure essential services to keep young people safe and secure, and to transform their lives for the better
In the face of mounting challenges from knife crime, mental health and future employment, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Youth Affairs has called for political leadership ‘from the top’ with a Cabinet Minister held accountable to Parliament, and a strengthened national body for youth work to mobilise, train and support qualified youth workers, trainees and skilled volunteers.
The report identifies cuts to youth work as being short-sighted. It argues that investing in youth work provides long-term savings, however, it equally makes the case that youth work is not simply about cost-savings:
Launching the report, Chair of APPG Youth Affairs Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP said:
“The loss of funding and lack of political leadership means that youth work services have been eroded. Long term support for all young people sacrificed for short term interventions for a few. The Government’s own civil society strategy recognises ‘the transformational impact that youth services and trained youth workers can have’. It must act now. We need a coherent approach and investment to secure and sustain youth work.”
APPG Youth Affairs Vice-Chair Ben Bradley MP added:
“Young people today face a range of complex and multiple issues that can have a devastating impact on their life-chances and overall happiness. Choices they make and the skills they gain can also open up huge opportunities, shaping their futures. Yet too many young people do not have the family or social networks to support them, and need somebody to help. We need to establish a clear duty and guidance to ensure young people can access quality youth work.”
Supporting the report, Chief Executive of the National Youth Agency, Leigh Middleton said:
“At its heart, youth work harnesses the skills of all young people not fulfilled by formal education. We cannot expect it all to be done by schools. However, the recruitment of youth workers is in decline. Skilled volunteers have an important part to play, but they too need training and support. We welcome the Government’s commitment to strengthen the youth work workforce by working with us to open up career pathways in youth work. This is an important first step in response to the cross-party recommendations.”
The report makes 6 recommendations:
There should be a minister responsible who has a portfolio focussed on young people
There needs to be greater investment in youth work and commitment to support for youth services in the next Comprehensive Spending Review.
The Government should introduce a clear statutory duty and guidance that defines a minimum and protected level of youth service.
There should be a lead role confirmed in each local authority responsible for discharging the statutory duty.
The Government should develop a workforce strategy including expectations for the ratio of professional youth workers, trainees and volunteers.
There needs to be a standardised and national system for evaluating the sufficiency and suitability of youth services and quality of youth work provision.
Notes related to the APPG Youth Affairs Inquiry:
a) The inquiry is part of the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Youth Affairs. This received written evidence, held parliamentary hearings and visited local youth projects and services, May to September 2018. An Interim Report was published on 31 October 2019 and debated at a Youth Work Summit. A subsequent forum was held with young people in Parliament.
b) The National Youth Agency supported the cross-party group of MPs in running this inquiry. It provided research, secretariat support and NYA Chief Executive was specialist adviser. The National Youth Agency is the national body for youth work; for more information about youth work visit www.nya.org.uk
c) APPG for Youth Affairs was established in 1998 to raise the profile of issues that affect and concern young people, encourage dialogue between parliamentarians, young people and youth services, and encourage a co-ordinated and coherent approach to youth policy making. The British Youth Council and YMCA England & Wales are the permanent secretariat for the APPG. APPG Register of Members