Invest in young people or lose a generation, youth leaders warn Chancellor

By Gabriella Jozwiak

| 08 March 2013

Youth organisations have urged the Chancellor to alleviate the pressure on young people in the forthcoming Budget.

BYC's chair said young people 'need to feel the government cares about them'. Image: MorgueFile

Dan Derricott, vice chair of the British Youth Council, said that George Osborne would risk losing young people’s confidence if he did not address their needs in his Budget announcement on 20 March.

“If confidence is a significant factor in the recovery of the economy, the Chancellor should direct a key message to the younger generation,” said Derricott.
 
“In recent years, those leaving school, college or university are facing a tough and uncertain future and need to feel that the government cares about them too.
 
He said investment in youth services was key, as young people not in education, employment or training needed to be supported throughout the economic downturn.

“If these levels of youth unemployment are to continue we are going to miss the services that have previously supported young people to cope with the transition to adulthood,” he said.
 
“This is more important for those who are unemployed as they develop resilience, patience, and work-ready skills, and encourage young people not to lose heart.”

Derricott's warning was backed by Faiza Khan, deputy chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services, backed Derricott's warning.

Young people, she said, are "our strongest chance of steering this country out of austerity" but "recent budgets have not adequately resourced their development".

“As well as monetary investment, we need a strong, centrally held policy framework that commits to intelligent policy that works for young people right across government and in turn supports high-quality delivery of services on the ground,” said Khan.
 
But Elizabeth Harding, chief executive of the North West Regional Youth Work Unit, said it was unrealistic to expect the Budget to include any concessions for young people.

However, she said the Chancellor should lift the current cap on council tax since that would give local authorities more freedom to provide services.

She also said the government should rethink areas of its welfare reforms that will disadvantage some young people, such as young parents.

“Some of the new policies will affect young people’s ability to become independent,” said Harding.

“I’d also like the government to take some responsibility for youth policy even if it is delivered locally. Young people are an important part of this country and it would be nice if government had a vision beyond education.”
 
In related news, young people in London yesterday presented their own Youth Budget for 2013 to Treasury Secretary David Gauke.
 
Created by 1,400 14- to 18-year-olds from across the UK, the document’s top three suggestions were for a one per cent tax on “unhealthy food”, for National Insurance to be increased by one per cent, and for the government to invest more money in adult apprenticeships.

The young people's proposals were the result of the Citizenship Foundation’s Chance to be a Chancellor competition.

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