Parliamentary debate on the role and sufficiency of youth work
JANUARY 21, 2020
A general debate was held on the role and current sufficiency of youth services in the UK was held yesterday in the House of Commons as a response to the publication of the inquiry by the all-party parliamentary group on youth affairs, which was published in April.
During her introductory speech, the outgoing Minister for Civil Society, Mims Davies MP, announced several new pieces of funding. These included £500,000 in bursaries for up to 400 youth work students and ongoing funding of £280,000 to six Centre for Social Action initiatives.
She also renewed her commitment to a Youth Charter, to delivering a long-term guarantee to young people of the services they can expect and emphasised the importance of youth voice.
Other MPs in the debate spoke about the importance of youth work in supporting young people and the challenges that the sector faced from funding cuts and a lack of long-term government planning.
Cat Smith MP, Shadow Minister for Youth Affairs and Votes for 16 highlighted Labour’s strategy to rebuild communities and guarantee high-quality youth work in every local authority and asked if the Minister would join the call for proper investment in services for young people ahead of the upcoming spending review, instead of ‘sticking-plaster solutions’.
She said that “The next Labour Government will deliver properly funded youth services, backed by new legislation. Local authorities will be responsible for setting the strategic vision for what they want to achieve, working alongside local partners and young people to shape provision in the local area and ensure sufficient access to high-quality youth work provision. Local authorities will be required to establish and facilitate the delivery of local youth partnerships, which will bring together stakeholders from across the community, including young people themselves, to map how they can best support young people’s needs. That will be overseen by a strengthened national body for youth work, to ensure that such partnerships and provision is in place.”
Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP, Chair of the APPG Youth Affairs referred to the almost £1 billion reduction in spending on the sector in real terms. He also urged the Government to “introduce a clear statutory duty and guidance to define the minimum protected level of service.”
Vicky Foxcroft MP, Shadow Minister for Civil Society spoke about the importance of sustainable, long-term youth work, welcoming the opportunity to debate the positive impact that youth services have on young people. She highlighted how youth centres provide young people with safe spaces in which to learn, develop trusted relationships, build friendships and develop interpersonal skills.
National Officer Siobhan Endean welcomed the debate saying " There is an urgent need for substantial government investment in Youth Services if they are to recover from the decimation due to funding cuts over the past 10 years. Unite is determined that the cuts to local authority funding for youth services must be restored and a commitment to a fully funded statutory youth service is way overdue. The announcement of 400 new national bursaries, whilst welcomed, is a drop in the ocean in the cost of studying as a fully qualified youth worker, and will be of little consequence to the many hundreds of professional youth workers, Unite members, that have lost their jobs as a result of government driven austerity.”
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