Labour MP makes legislative bid for statutory youth services

By Nina Jacobs

| 08 June 2018

A Labour MP has launched a bid to introduce legislation to require local authorities to provide youth services on a statutory basis.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle wants youth services to be made statutory. Picture: UK Parliament

Lloyd Russell-Moyle introduced the Ten Minute Rule Bill calling on the government to promote and secure youth services and to establish local youth service partnerships.

The member of parliament for Brighton Kemptown said youth services improve the life chances of individual young people and offered them new experiences ranging from the arts to outdoor adventures.

"Young people gain from those experiences," he said as he addressed MPs during his speech in the House of Commons.

"Youth work supports but does not replace formal education. It enhances the readiness for learning in the classroom and learning in life."

The bill includes provisions to impose a duty on local authorities to provide a minimum level of youth services.

Russell-Moyle said that last year a quarter of young people thought about suicide with one in nine making an attempt on their own life.

"Young people are three times more likely to be lonely than older people," he said.

"Knife crime is up, gang crime is up and there are less opportunities for young people than ever before," he added.

He said cuts of nearly 70 per cent to the UK's youth services had left young people with "nowhere to go, nothing to do and no one to speak to".

Ten Minute Rule Bills are a parliamentary mechanism which allows a backbench MP 10 minutes to propose a new law. If MPs are persuaded to support the proposal, then a bill to enact it will be introduced to parliament. However, few Ten Minute Rule bills become law and are mainly used by MPs to push an issue higher up the political agenda.

Russell-Moyle's bill was agreed and is due to be debated on 26 October.

Choose Youth, a national campaigning organisation, held an event in parliament on the same day as the bill was introduced, where young people and youth workers met with their MPs to discuss the issue of youth services becoming statutory.

Anna Barker, chair of the British Youth Council said: "The British Youth Council have been concerned about the decimation of youth services for some time.

"Young people have consistently highlighted the importance of youth service provisions and the impact it has on the lives of young people.

"We're happy to hear parliament are talking about this important issue."  

Amanda Fearn, development director at the National Youth Agency (NYA), praised Russell-Moyle's bill for recognising the role and impact of youth work and depletion of youth services.

"It is vital we keep the conversation going through the APPG Youth Affairs inquiry to make the case for youth work and the significant role that youth services place to support positive outcomes for young people and whole communities," she said.

"The debate has started in parliament. We need to build on this together."

Earlier this year Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell pledged to include making youth services statutory in the party's manifesto for the next general election.

He said such a service would require councils to provide a minimum level of youth provision which would form part of Labour's pledge to create a national education service.

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