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Labour Conference 2011: Policy review to examine what local councils can offer youth services

Labour Conference 2011: Policy review to examine what local councils can offer youth services

The following article was written by Neil Puffett on Wednesday 28 September 2011 on cypnow.co.uk  

 

Labour will examine what expectations for youth services can be placed on local authorities as part of its “new bargain” outlined by leader Ed Miliband, the shadow children’s minister has said.

Speaking at a fringe event staged by the Confederation of Heads of Young People’s Services at the Labour conference in Liverpool, Toby Perkins said the idea will be broached in the party’s ongoing policy review.

“One of the things the policy review will look at is how do we represent the new bargain in terms of expectations on local authorities and what they offer,” he said.

Within this, he added, there needed to be some sense of the government having responsibility for young people’s services and what that would look like.

“It is about how we offer the sort of guarantees in terms of our broad provision for young people in the context of a new financial settlement.”

Also speaking at the meeting, Julie Hilling, MP for Bolton West and a former youth worker, said the government risks more potential trouble of the kind seen last month due to cuts to services.

“We are going to end up with more young people at risk at the bottom because we are not providing services at the top,” she said. “I think we will continue to see trouble and issues because we have so many young people with nothing now.”

At a separate panel debate on youth services, staged by CYP Now, delegates heard that those working in the youth sector must take the lead in shaping its future.

Participants at the event, chaired by CYP Now editor Ravi Chandiramani, voiced concerns about the depth of cuts and recognition that the government’s forthcoming youth policy is unlikely to come with additional funding attached.

Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of Groundwork UK, said that, looking forward, the youth sector must be proactive.

“It is not just for the government to set that narrative,” he said. “We need a stronger, clearer narrative for young people and can’t wait for the government to give us it.

“We have to accept that the coalition is very unlikely to turn its focus, some might say obsession, with dealing with the deficit. My challenge to everybody is how do we think positively about the narrative for young people.”

Kanchan Jadeja, chair of the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services, said new ideas are vital. “We have to continue to be positive,” she said. “We have to provide positive leadership and also look at creative ideas. We are not going to get the funding we used to have.”

The final draft of the government’s long-awaited youth policy is scheduled to be published in the week beginning 10 October. But speaking at the debate, Ian Wright, Labour shadow education minister, said it was a “national disgrace” that the government still doesn’t have a “strategy or vision for young people”.

“Young people have borne the brunt of cuts,” he said. “You can lay the blame of the financial crisis in many places, but you can’t lay it on young people.”

Wright added that a vision for young people must involve them having influence themselves.

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