Labour to establish national youth service body with protected funding

By Neil Puffett

| 31 July 2018

A national body with a ringfenced budget will be established to oversee and fund youth service provision across England if Labour wins the next election, the party has said.

Labour said it wants to provide all young people to have access to youth services. Picture: OnSide Youth Zones

Labour said that under plans unveiled today to place youth services on a statutory footing, every local authority would be required to establish a local youth service partnership made up of young people, parents, professionals and locally elected politicians.

The partnership would be responsible for providing strategic leadership, assessing provision in the area and publishing a local youth strategy.

The national body would work with all local partnerships, reviewing local youth strategies, monitoring and distributing funding, and advising on professional and service standards, the party said.

"Labour is committed to creating a quality youth service for all young people," a consultation document setting out the plans states.

"We believe this service should be protected in statute, recognising the important role universal youth work plays in supporting young people to realise their potential."

The consultation document states that following the consultation process, Labour intends to create a national strategy for youth work and a charter underpinned by law, defining what sufficient levels of service provision will be. It also hopes to be able to identify a sustainable funding model to support the delivery of a statutory youth service.

A draft charter, which features in the consultation document, sets out that "all young people will be entitled to inclusive, open access youth services".

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Labour said it wants anyone with interest in shaping youth services to take part in the consultation on the plans, led by Cat Smith, the party's shadow youth minister.

"The government has left youth services across the country devastated after eight years of unnecessary and unjustified austerity," Smith said.

"With youth services targeted for budget cuts, the Tories have created the conditions in which crime can thrive, leaving young people vulnerable to violence and denied the opportunity to build a positive future.

"I urge anyone who wants to improve the opportunities available to young people to get involved. Together, we will rebuild youth services to create a system that truly works for the many, not the few."

Youth services across England have faced significant cuts in recent years. According to a YMCA report published in May, spending on youth services by English local authorities fell from £1.18bn in 2010/11 to £448m in 2016/17.

Last month it emerged that the National Citizen Service initiative accounts for around 95 per cent of central government's direct spend on youth services.

Yesterday the Home Office announced that it has doubled the amount of money it intends to hand out through the Early Intervention Youth Fund to local youth projects that seek to steer young people away from violent crime to £22m.

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