Youth Investment Fund

Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at on 23 May 2024.

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Photo of Paul Howell Paul Howell Conservative, Sedgefield

What assessment she has made of the impact of the youth investment fund on opportunities for young people.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

As this Parliament comes to an end, I too would like to begin by thanking you, Mr Speaker, for everything you have done and for the support you have given me as a Minister over the past six years. I would like to thank DCMS and my officials for all the work they have done, the special advisers, who have been superb, and my hard-working and effective ministerial team—we work as a team—and I am thankful for my engagement with the shadow Secretary of State.

It is really important that we support our young people. That is why we have a programme to build or refurbish up to 300 youth facilities, supporting 45,000 young people each year. To date, £250 million has been awarded to 227 organisations to build, renovate and expand youth provision.

Photo of Paul Howell Paul Howell Conservative, Sedgefield

Like others, I would like to thank everyone who has helped me over my first Parliament—I hope to come back for another one with a different constituency name. On the substantive question, on Saturday 11 May I went to the Middleton St George scout hall to join the local lord lieutenant and deputy mayor as we opened their new scout hall, with more than £350,000 from the Conservative Government’s youth investment fund. Could the Secretary of State just remind us how important these community groups are—the scouts, the brass bands, and all of the different things that we see around our communities—and maybe just remind us of the breadth and scope of support that this Conservative Government have given to such organisations?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I thank my hon. Friend, who is a huge campaigner for his area. We have given 300,000 opportunities to young people through our national youth guarantee. That is not just about the youth clubs that I have mentioned; we have also given 12,000 disadvantaged young people an opportunity to have adventures away from home; we have made 30,000 places for the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme; and we have created 250 new uniformed youth groups.

Photo of Alex Davies-Jones Alex Davies-Jones Shadow Minister (Domestic Violence and Safeguarding)

It was Labour Government funding that enabled me, a working-class girl from Pontypridd, to access specialist music lessons, to fall in love with opera and to take part in a specialist workshop with Welsh National Opera. We all know what is sadly happening with the WNO, so what steps is the Secretary of State taking to safeguard our world-class WNO and the jobs and opportunities it provides for young people and everyone across Wales and the south-west?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I am really delighted to have an opportunity to answer this question about funding in Wales, because, notwithstanding the fact that arts is devolved to Wales, this Government have given £4 million through the Arts Council to Welsh National Opera—the same amount that the Welsh Government have given. Furthermore, the Arts Council has given transition funding. In fact, Welsh National Opera has been in the top 10% of organisations that have been funded. My position is that the Labour Government in Wales have reduced their funding to the Arts Council of Wales by 10%, and have been called out by those in Wales, so I am very grateful to the hon. Member for giving me the opportunity to point that out.

Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Can the Secretary of State, or anyone else on the Tory Benches, honestly tell the young people in Bristol and across the UK that they are better off, after 14 years of Conservative failures on youth services, failures on education and failures on skills development, than they would be under a Government led by Keir Starmer and a changed Labour party?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Absolutely. This Government have supported young people through education in outstanding schools—80% of young people get an outstanding education. We are up in the PISA—programme for international student assessment—tables for education. As I said, 300,000 young people have been given opportunities in the creative industries, which the hon. Member fails to mention. Employment is up in the creative industries, and we have doubled the number of people employed and doubled the revenues. Labour voted against our creative industries tax relief every single time.