Councils should introduce measures to increase the competition between youth activity providers, the government said this week.
Statutory guidance out for consultation states that increased competition would encourage the public, private and voluntary sectors to play to their strengths.
It suggests some providers may require start-up funding to enter the market and warns against overly restrictive service specifications and requirements, which could exclude certain providers.
Under section six of the Education and Inspections Act 2006, councils must provide young people with access to at least two hours of sport and two hours of other activities, such as at youth clubs, each week.
The guidance calls on councils to address in particular the needs of people at greatest risk of poorer outcomes who often experience difficulty accessing activities, due to barriers such as cost and lack of transport.
It says children’s trust partners, including primary care trusts and youth offending teams, would also be required to identify such groups and undertake an assessment of their both need to engage in activities and the support they would require to do so.
It adds that too much current provision is of poor quality and is unappealing to young people, resulting in lack of engagement, and calls on councils to involve young people in the design, delivery and assessment of local provision.
Other measures include requiring councils to map existing provision and identify gaps.
The guidance is out to consultation until 30 March.