The youth green paper’s proposal to deny activities to young people who behave anti-socially could fuel such behaviour, campaigners warned this week.
The Interagency Group, which consists of organisations including the Association of Directors of Social Services and children’s charity the National Children’s Bureau, said that being denied access to an activity card, as ministers propose, could act as a “badge of honour” to young people.
“It [stripping them of their card] will add to the risk of them becoming adults unable to make the economic and other contributions society expects of them,” said the group in its response to a consultation on the document.
The green paper proposed that young people from low-income families could be given up to £12 a month to spend on activities, which would be put onto ‘opportunity cards’. But the cards would be suspended or withdrawn from young people who committed antisocial behaviour or crime.
The Youth Justice Board said there needed to be a clear process for young people who had their cards suspended to earn back their entitlements in order to motivate them to change their behaviour.
It said the sanction should also be considered alongside whatever punishment had already been given to the young person to prevent “a system of double jeopardy” being created. The YJB also called for clarity on the types of behaviour that could lead to reduced entitlement.
YMCA England was also critical of the scheme, arguing that it was “illogical” to invest in activities for young people and to withdraw the card at the “first sign of anti-social behaviour”.
It was anxious about the costs of the plans and said the benefits to young people in rural areas would be minimal if transportation issues were not addressed.