Youth brief handed to sports minister

By Gabriella Jozwiak

| 15 June 2017

Responsibility for youth policy has been handed to the government minister who oversees sport, it has been confirmed.

Tracey Crouch has been handed responsibility for youth policy in addition to her existing sport and tourism brief. Picture: DCMS

Following former youth minister Rob Wilson's failure to get re-elected in his Reading East seat at last week's general election, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has confirmed Tracey Crouch will take on the role.

Crouch has been parliamentary under-secretary of state for sport, tourism and heritage since May 2015. Her remit for tourism and heritage has been handed to her fellow DWP minister John Glen.

Her new title is minister of sport and civil society.

The British Youth Council's (BYC) vice-chair Ife Grillo welcomed the appointment, but expressed concern about the size of Crouch's brief.

"We'll be seeking out reassurances at the earliest opportunity," he said. "We have repeatedly made it clear we believe a minister for youth should be appointed and we'll be using this opportunity to highlight that issue again."

Since the general election, BYC and other youth campaigners have called for young people to have a greater say over future political decisions, following the high voting turnout among young people.

According to Sky News data, the turnout among 18- to 24-year-olds was 66.4 per cent - a substantial rise from the 43 per cent figure recorded in the 2015 general election.

And a YouGov poll published this week suggested 57 per cent of 18- and 19-year-olds voted in the 2017 general election. 

James Cathcart, former chief executive of BYC and now a youth campaigner, sent an open letter to Prime Minister Theresa May this week calling for her to appoint a cabinet level youth minister, and establish a government department for youth affairs and a youth select committee. 

He said: "The 18-24 #youthvote has earned the right to inform, influence and scrutinise, but we need new ways to respond to, and embed that.

Commenting on today's announcement, Cathcart said he welcomed Crouch the "first female youth minister in 17 years", referring to Dawn Butler who was minister for youth citizenship and youth engagement from 2009 to 2010.
He added that he hoped "a meeting with young representatives is top of her agenda."
"I look forward to seeing the details of the newly extended job role to see how youth policy will be coordinated, prioritised and communicated to young people," he said.
National Youth Agency chief executive Paul Miller said Crouch, who is Football Association qualified coach, has knowledge and experience of working with young people.

"We hope she'll take this insight of what energises and motivates young people into her work on youth policy," he said.
"It's an exciting time, with the high turnout rate amongst 18-24 voters indicating that young people are demanding to have a voice in the shape of their future and to have their views listened to."
He added that NYA looked forward to working with Crouch on a planned youth strategy, which was previously announced by former minister Wilson.
He said this was "a great opportunity to forge a new government-wide commitment to supporting young people and providing the services, such as high quality youth work, which they need."

Earlier this week, Crouch tweeted that she was "delighted" to have been reappointed as under secretary of state for sport, tourism and heritage.

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