Young people to be central to design of £90m youth programme

Joe Lepper
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Young people are to take a central role in designing initiatives that will receive funding from a £90m programme, the government has said.

Funding of £90m announced in January is part of a £330m pot from dormant bank and building society accounts that will be used to support good causes in the UK over the next four years.

The progamme is being designed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DDCMS), Department for Education, Department for Work and Pensions and the Big Lottery Fund.

In a statement of intent the DCMS and Big Lottery Fund have said that involving young people in designing and delivering the programme is crucial to its success.

"The core principles that will underpin this progamme include placing young people at the heart of designing and ongoing delivery of progammes - demonstrating their value to the economy and ensuring the support they need," the statement says.

For the next two months the Big Lottery Fund will stage a number of "engagement opportunities" for young people and youth organisations to help shape how the programmes are designed.

This will include targeted workshops with young people who have or are experiencing multiple barriers to finding work.

Another core principle of the programme is that it involves partnerships between youth organisations, the education sector and businesses.

The government and Big Lottery Fund also want the programme to look at diverse ways of finding further funding, particularly the use of social impact bonds, whereby payments are made based on evidence of success.

Earlier this month youth work organisation UK Youth called on the sector to diversify the way it is funded and work more closely with the private sector to guarantee its long-term future.

A key issue the £90m funding pot is looking to address is the disparity in employment opportunities among young people from different ethnic backgrounds.

The statement of intent cites the government's Race Disparity Audit, which detailed how there was a 12 per cent chance of being unemployed among white 16- to 24-year-olds but a 23 per cent chance of not finding employment among other ethnic groups.

Care leavers, young offenders and those with mental health issues who are out of work are other groups the programme will seek to target.

"We know young people furthest from the labour market are not a homogenous group," says the statement of intent.

"Some people are ‘Neet' (not in education, employment or training) for just a short period, or through choice, perhaps taking a gap year before university.

"Others face a range of barriers to employment: mental and physical ill health, caring responsibilities, substance misuse, homelessness, criminal convictions, and being a care leaver can all significantly increase a young person's chances of becoming ‘Neet'.

"These barriers can have a lasting effect, with young carers and those with physical or mental ill health accounting for two thirds of young people who are not in training, education or employment for long periods."

The statement adds that the best programmes at helping disadvantaged young people find work are tailored to their individual needs and look at breaking down a range of barriers, including access to transport and technology.

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