What recent assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of introducing a statutory duty on local authorities to provide youth services.
The Government already place a statutory duty on local authorities to secure sufficient positive activities for young people so far as is practicable.
I am proud that Nottingham’s play and youth service still delivers in every ward of our city. Its early intervention work with young people who are troubled or at risk can reduce the need for more costly interventions later. However, since the Government’s cuts forced the play and youth services to merge, they have lost more than half their staff since 2010. When are the Government going to stop this short-sighted thinking and start tackling the crisis in local authority youth services by giving them the funding they need?
I am sorry to hear that the hon. Lady’s council has made those changes to youth services. I am aware of some other projects in her area that are funded by Government, including the myplace centre, and #iwill has funded other projects in Nottingham. We are providing £80 million in partnership with the Big Lottery Fund through youth investment and #iwill funds, and we also have £90 million of dormant accounts funding that will help young people facing barriers to work.
In 2011, the Government produced a policy document, “Positive for Youth”, which proposed new partnership models of working between businesses, local authorities, charities and not-for-profit organisations to counter the diminishing provision of youth services. What is the status of that policy?
To be honest, I am unsure, but we are looking at youth policy as part of the civil society strategy, and I am happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss this further.
The Minister refers to the £90 million that is going to be made available to youth programmes via dormant accounts, but will she acknowledge that this makes up just 17% of the shortfall of £765 million that has been cut from our youth services since 2011? When are the Government going to get serious and give local authority youth services the funding they so desperately need?
First, I wish the hon. Lady well in her next venture, which I understand is due shortly. I hope that she will take a decent amount of maternity leave, as I did; it is well worth it.
Funding for youth services is a matter for local authorities. I work very closely with colleagues across Departments to make sure that the funds that I have available are going to the right areas of youth provision, and I will continue to do so.
We are out of time, but I am going to take a couple more questions if people respect the fact that we are running late. Graham P. Jones—a very short question.