Sector reacts to youth policy shift

By Neil Puffett

| 03 July 2013

The decision to hand responsibility for youth strategy to the Cabinet Office has been welcomed by the youth sector as a way of putting young people's issues at the heart of government.

Youth policy is set to move to the Cabinet Office. Image: NTI

In a move announced by the government today, the youth brief will transfer shortly from the Department for Education into the portfolio of Nick Hurd, the minister for civil society.

Fiona Blacke, chief executive of the National Youth Agency, said her organisation is “really pleased” with the decision.

“The Cabinet Office's reach and influence across government and Nick's own passion for the youth agenda make us believe that the move provides real potential for more joined-up youth policy and cross-governmental co-ordination,” she said.

“If we have one concern, it is that in this move the educational nature of youth work as a distinctive area of practice is not lost.

“We are pleased to have heard [children’s minister] Edward Timpson assure us that the importance of this agenda will not be forgotten by the Department for Education (DfE) in this regard.”

Susanne Rauprich, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS), said: “Today's announcement has to be welcomed.

“NCVYS believes that we have long missed a trick by failing to place the resources and creativity that young people bring at the centre of all government policies and the efforts to rebuild our economy.

“The Cabinet Office is the right place within government to change that and new youth minister Nick Hurd has already shown the commitment necessary to be an effective advocate for young people.

“This move will also help to ensure that youth policy effectively supports the voluntary and community sector youth organisations who provide holistic provision for young people.”

Barbara Rayment, director of youth advice and counselling charity Youth Access, said that the change would count for nothing unless a different approach to youth services is adopted.

“We would give a cautious welcome to the move,” she said.

“We have been calling for a cross-departmental approach to youth policy for many years, both at national and local levels.

“The location of youth policy in the DfE always tended to limit its scope and ambition.

“However, wherever responsibility lies, it will be largely academic unless it is accompanied by a strategy with teeth and serious investment in services that support vulnerable young people.”

Rosina St James, chair of British Youth Council said she believes the organisation can “get more of a listening ear on issues like cuts to youth services” from the Cabinet Office. 

“We can fulfil our scrutiny and campaigning role more effectively at the heart of Government, and much closer to No. 10 than the DfE,” she said.

“The new minister is already well known to us as a champion of young people’s social action and is particularly keen to see them play a fuller role in our democracy.”

Charlotte Hill, chief executive of UK Youth, said: “We have always felt the DfE is the natural home for youth services – after all youth work is a proven means of educating young people.

“However, due to its reach across government, the Cabinet Office is the next best option and will, we hope, enable the work of the youth sector to be supported in all departments.”


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