Youth Service

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:50 am on 23rd November 2010.

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Photo of Stella Creasy Stella Creasy Labour, Walthamstow 11:50 am, 23rd November 2010

I am glad to see the Minister shaking his head. Those two things cannot be comparable. We in the youth sector know that they are apples and pears. The national citizen service, which is interesting, should in no way be regarded as a compensation for the ability to integrate services and work with young people in their communities in the long term. In areas such as Walthamstow, it is important for people on the ground to build up trusting relationships over time with young people to help them make the right choices in their life. It is critical that we understand the need to intervene differently in respect of various age groups and children in differing circumstances. Youth services in local areas have been able to develop ways of working around young people, rather than around the service that is delivered. I accept that that differs in various places. There are issues about how youth services are delivered, but we Opposition Members are concerned that the cuts that are coming through now will hamper youth services' ability to be more flexible in working with young people in different ways and producing the interventions that people need to get the outcomes we all want.

Secondly, the consequences of the public sector cuts, nationally and locally, are already clear. I urge Anne Marie Morris to look again at the impact of the cuts on the national and local youth sector, particularly the voluntary youth sector. We recognise the interconnectedness of the voluntary youth sector and local youth services; that is the challenge for us. The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services has said that already this year youth sector organisations have lost 20% of their budget, and that 80% of the programmes that are closing are those working with people who are not in education, employment or training-the very group we are especially concerned about. That is already happening as a result of the in-year cuts.

There is understanding about the relationship between the voluntary youth sector and youth services locally, and other public services. It is important to put on the record the great support that the police and health care services in my area provide to youth projects. However, before we can get to the great world in which the voluntary youth sector is more involved in running services, we will see it being cut off at the start, so that it will be unable to do some of the more innovate partnership work we all want to see happen.

I shall make my third and final point brief because I recognise that we are short of time. The challenge we are facing is not difficult economic circumstances but the question, "What are our priorities?" If our priority is to get best value for money, it is clear from the case made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton West that investment in voluntary youth services and youth services locally reaps dividends well beyond the initial financial investment.

What is the best way to tap into the ability and interest in volunteering with young people locally, and how best to support it? I welcome some of the ideas Justin Tomlinson has come up with, but he did not say how he would get the youth services bus to the youth disco, or who would pay for the person who organises and manages that. That is our critique. The hon. Gentleman's ideas are fantastic, but how will he make them happen? Delivery and implementation-