The announcement on Thursday of a new Youth Charter by the Minister for Sport and Civil Society, Mims Davies sounds very positive “This is an important commitment to a generation for a generation. The Youth Charter will be a clear message to young people: we back them and are listening to them.” She went on to say “It will be developed over the coming months, with Government working alongside youth sector organisations and young people.” Mims was not the only Minister to promote this Charter. Nadhim Zahawi, Children and Families Minister, said: “Every young person, whatever their background or the challenges they face, should have the chance to shape their own futures. We’re working together to raise the bar in the opportunities available to the next generation and help improve their outcomes. The Youth Charter reaffirms young people’s place at the heart of policy, making sure their voices are heard on important issues that affect them, from decisions about the environment, the schools they attend, support for mental health, or how we tackle serious violence.”
The announcement went on to state that the charter will build on the existing support and range of innovative projects currently supporting young people across the country. This includes £90 million from dormant bank accounts that is being used to help some of the most disadvantaged young people into employment. The Government is also investing £80 million from Government and the National Lottery Community Fund in the Youth Investment and #iwill funds. It is hoped this will help address the recent decline in the number of people taking up youth work training and give youth workers the skills they need to best support young people.
So to put these figures into context, the total amount being invested is £170m which is not an insignificant sum. However it is a one of sum of money and compares with the statement by the Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People board “Investment in youth work training is a positive step towards making sure we have a well-qualified, highly skilled workforce, but councils have already had to reduce spending on local youth services from £652 million in 2010/11 to £352 million in 2017/18 as a result of government funding cuts.” So this represents a cut of £300m a year! The table below which is from Unison indicates an even larger sum of funding cuts.
Denise Hatton, CEO of YMCA England stated “it’s important to remember we have been here before on a number of occasions with government, where Ministers promise one thing to young people and deliver something completely different. Over the past decade, young people have borne the brunt of cuts to services they depend upon to live fulfilled lives. Any Youth Charter created must also focus on how local and national government can reinvigorate those service and opportunities that have been lost which were previously the backbone of a young people’s development.”
So the question is what is going to happen to dramatically increase the sum involved from a one off sum of £170m to an annual sum of £500m or thereabouts? After all this is barely more than one weeks sum promised for the NHS by the people who drove a red bus around our nation back in 2016!