Loughton blames 'big personalities' for lack of co-operation in youth sector

Janaki Mahadevan
Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Children's minister Tim Loughton has said charities serving children and families must improve co-ordination and stamp out duplication to strengthen the sector and improve services for children and young people.

Loughton wants the youth sector to share best practice. Image: Phil Adams
Loughton wants the youth sector to share best practice. Image: Phil Adams

Speaking at the annual conference of the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, Loughton said the youth sector needed to improve the dissemination of best practice and ensure projects are not launched unless they meet the needs and wants of young people.

He argued that one of the obstacles to encouraging organisations to work closer together and share best practice is "big personalities" within the sector.

"There are an awful lot of prima donnas in the youth sector," he said. "There are now 73,000 charities in this country dealing with children and families. That is unsustainable, so we have got to have some co-ordination and some consolidation within the sector so we have some stronger voices who are speaking for more people across the sector, we have started to see that."

Loughton said the upcoming government youth policy paper Positive for Youth, will include various work strands and will include the pledge to assess the government’s progress on youth policy a year down the line

"Positive for youth is a starting point not a finishing point," he said. "What is going to be different is that there will be lots of work strands that will spring from the document later this month.

"It will be challenging because there is no big cheque attached to it so we have to be realistic, but it is about using money better and making a really strong case for when we can try to leverage money out of the Treasury in the future.

"One year on we will have an audit of how far we have or haven’t got and that audit will absolutely be run with the input of young people."

Loughton reaffirmed his intention to slim down statutory guidance currently surrounding councils’ duty to provide positive activities for 13- to 19-year-olds, saying a consultation on the revised guidance will be launched before Christmas.

He also touched upon work going on across government to increase the number of young people participating in education and training.

"We are working on a participation strategy across government with Department for Work and Pensions and Department of Business Innovation and Skills colleagues," he said. "We will be producing something later on in the autumn complementary to Positive for Youth, seeing how we can get more young people staying in education earlier than when the participation age is raised, and to make sure that the extra apprenticeships we have created are going disproportionately to the 16- to 25-year-olds."

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