Youth green paper to place duty on councils to provide activity schemes

Local authorities could be required by law to provide positive
activities for young people, according to proposals set out in a
draft of the government’s youth green paper leaked to Community
Care, writes Maria Ahmed

The draft of Youth Matters also pledges to “empower” young
people as “consumers” rather than recipients of services, echoing
one of the key themes of the adult green paper.

It also outlines national standards including providing two hours a
week of “purposeful, supported activities” and at least two hours
of sport or other physical activity.

Councils would also be required to provide a range of “safe,
enjoyable places” for young people along with activities including

The draft, produced last month, says: “Evidence shows that young
people who are not involved in activities are disproportionately
likely to experience disadvantage in other ways… getting involved
in the right kind of activities can make a significant contribution
to a wide range of outcomes for young people.”

Proposals to pilot “youth opportunity cards” that could be used
like debit cards to gain access to activities such as sports are
also included in the green paper.

The cards would be funded through “activity accounts” with money
from central government, local authorities and parents, and the
government would provide extra monthly subsidies for the accounts
of disadvantaged 13 to 16 year olds.

The draft says: “Putting spending power into the hands of young
people will not only help overcome cost as a barrier to
participation, but will empower them as consumers.

“The government believes that putting funding into the hands of
young people is the best way of ensuring that the activities
provided meet their needs.”

The document does not propose any new money to support the reforms
except additional central government resources to support young
people’s activity accounts “subject to piloting”. It says that
existing funds would be “simplified” by devolving a range of
central government grants to children’s trusts.

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