MPs call for action to ‘stabilise’ youth work sector

Posted: 5th August 2021

Changes to youth work provision including shared responsibility between government departments, “light-touch” inspections and the development of local authority youth services are needed to increase sustainability across the sector, MPs have said.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Youth Affairs published its interim report into the progress across statutory and voluntary youth services following an extensive review in 2019.

It finds that while “since 2019 there has been greater confidence in the role and potential of youth work”, one in five children, rising to one in three teenagers, are not happy with services and activities in their local area.

It also notes that children and young people did not feel listened to by politicians around Covid-19 recovery leaving them “lost and let down”.

To remedy this government and local authority youth services must “re-engage and focus on what youth services can offer in partnership with other local services; and the role that local youth services have for supporting young people in both statutory and non-statutory settings,” MPs say.

Funding and lack of employment and training opportunities for youth workers are key barriers to a “secure” provision.

“This has led to a lack of long-term investment and an estimated loss of annual expenditure of £1bn on local youth services,” the report states, adding: “We need to break that circle, to invest in youth work and commit to longitudinal studies on outcomes for young people.”

The report concludes that while the government is responsible for the youth work sector and funding statutory offers by local authorities, more must be done to boost funding from other sources such as the voluntary sector.

In a series of recommendations, building on those made in 2019, the APPG calls for long-term funding to support a national strategy to recruit, train and retrain qualified youth workers and volunteers.

The report also recommends the consideration of removing sole responsibility for the sector from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, instead creating a joint role with the Department for Education or creating a cross-party group of MPs led by a minister.

The government must also provide a clear indication of “what is a ‘sufficient’ level of youth services for a local area, to support local plans and area needs assessments,” MPs say, as well as supporting the establishment of local youth partnerships.

“New ‘light touch’ inspection arrangements for youth services” have also been suggested in a bid to “help ensure the quality of youth provision, including safeguarding and equity of access by young people”.

Source: Children & Young People Now

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