Minister 'committed' to review of youth work guidance despite delay

Joanne Parkes
Friday, September 13, 2019

A delayed call for evidence as part of a review of statutory guidance for council youth services will "happen very shortly", according to the government minister responsible for youth policy.

Speaking to CYP Now, Baroness Diana Barran said her office was "keen to get going" with the public call - which was due to take place over eight weeks from late July, but has been delayed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Concerns have been raised by the youth work sector that the delay, alongside a general election, could mean the review is not published for some months.

Baroness Barran declined to explain the delay, but said: "We're completely committed to going ahead with that. 

"I think we're going to be making an announcement shortly. Everybody is keen to get going with it."

The review was launched in early July by the then minister for civil society Mims Davies and featured details of the consultation process.

A written parliamentary question from shadow youth minister Cat Smith on 2 September asking for an update remained unanswered (at time of publication) by Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan.

Morgan however, gave a detailed answer to a separate question from Smith about progress with other elements of the government's youth strategy.

James Cathcart, director of youth network Young Voices Heard, called on the sector to take the initiative over the review.

Cathcart said: "It's been over a year since the publication of the Civil Society Strategy which promised a review of the youth work guidance. 

"Since then we have had two changes of minister and a new government. 

"Although a guidance review team was launched in July, the expected eight-week window didn't open over the summer. 

"The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport team's auto-reply email states that ‘we are not able to launch the call for evidence on the scheduled date (end of July) and are looking at a slightly longer time-frame...will be in touch in due course'.

"Given the possibility of a general election before the end of the year, which could be before the review could now report, it is time for stakeholders to start publishing what they would like to see in revised guidance, including reference to a refreshed new ministerial role in monitoring it, with a view to informing and influencing those who might be drafting general election manifestos, commitments to new youth sector legislation and ministerial appointments."

The department said the review was intended to "provide greater clarity" around the government's expectations of councils, "including the value added by good youth work".

The review is supported by the National Youth Agency (NYA), which has so far hosted six of the nine regional events to gather sector views.

The organisation said it had seen "excellent engagement" at each event from across the sector, including funders, local authorities, higher education and universities, and youth work practitioners. 

NYA said it has also scheduled a National Youth Work Summit on 29 October to include feedback from the roadshows, due to be held in parliament. 

The NYA added that in partnership with the DCMS it has also hosted a roundtable of NYA national advisory board members to discuss the review and improvements to the guidance. 

Barran was speaking to CYP Now following the announcement of details of a bursary for disadvantaged youth work trainees.