Civil Society Strategy: Council leaders welcome youth work focus
Friday, August 10, 2018
The Civil Society Strategy has put youth work "back on the agenda" of government, children's services and local government leaders have said.
The strategy, published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on Thursday, includes a commitment by the government to undertake a review of statutory guidance for councils to provide "appropriate local youth services".
It said the review will provide "greater clarity of the government's expectations, including the value added by good youth work" as a result of significant changes to the way services for young people are delivered since it was last scrutinised in 2012.
Both the Local Government Association and Association of Directors of Children's Services welcomed the strategy's focus on the positive contribution youth work can make to young people's life chances.
Rachel Dickinson, ADCS vice president, said: "The strategy clearly recognises the impact of youth services and youth workers who contribute to a range of positive outcomes at a community and individual level, this is welcome, as is the commitment to involve young people more in the development, implementation and evaluation of new policies that will directly affect their lives. DCMS is leading the way with this and we believe other government departments should follow.
"A review of statutory guidance setting out our duties in relation to youth services seems sensible. The strategy rightly states that much has changed since this guidance was last updated. Youth services have been disproportionately impacted by a 49 per cent reduction in local government funding since 2010, and local authorities have been exploring different ways of arranging, commissioning and delivering these services in a bid to retain some provision. Services are typically more targeted and embedded as part of the early help offer."
Roy Perry, vice chair of the LGA's children and young people board, said it is crucial to tackle the shortage of funding in children's services if councils are to provide better services for young people.
"We are pleased that the government's strategy has placed youth services back on the agenda, and we look forward to working with them on the review of youth services guidance in light of the increasingly challenging context that councils are working in.
"Children's services face a £3 billion funding gap by 2025. Government must address this gap if councils are to provide the services young people truly need."
The strategy also outlines plans to create an independent body to distribute £90m to projects that support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly those from black and minority ethnic communities, into employment.
However, Perry called for funding and control over all national skills and employment schemes to be devolved to local areas to better meets the needs of residents and employers.
"The current system for getting people into work is inefficient and ineffective, with 20 different funding streams managed by eight different government departments and agencies," he said.
"Every young person is unique and each area has its own challenges, so it is critical that any new provision is locally designed, commissioned and tailored based on local needs and expertise."
The Institute for Youth Work, meanwhile, has warned that the strategy does not address a number of key issues for the profession, including support for registration of youth workers, moving youth work back to the Department for Education and appointing a dedicated youth minister.
It said in a statement: "The fact that youth work even features in a government Civil Society Strategy (notably not a dedicated Youth Strategy) is lauded by some as a victory. Others seem to be recognising that this does not amount to the necessary support for youth work that the profession wishes to see."