Green paper proposals on councils’ legal duties are weak, says charity

Green paper proposals on councils’ legal duties are weak, says
charity Measures in the youth green paper might be insufficient to
ensure that councils provide young people with positive activities,
a leading youth charity has warned, writes Amy

The green paper, which covers England and was published this week,
proposes legislation “to clarify local authorities’ duty to secure
positive activities for young people”.

But Kevin Williams, national secretary of YMCA England, said this
might not be robust enough to make councils take action.

There are currently statutory requirements on councils to provide
child protection and children’s services but not for youth
services, which often led them to be underfunded, said

“We are worried that when the decisions are made at a local level
the more robust duties will get the funding,” he added.

Under the duty, councils will be legally required to provide young
people with a minimum of two hours of sporting activity and two
hours of other constructive activities a week.

Paul Ennals, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau,
said it was right that the duty did not say precisely what should
be provided as this should be made locally.

The green paper states that its proposals will be funded “within
available resources” during the 2004 spending review period, which
runs until April 2008.

Williams said the £40m of money over two years from April
2006, announced with the green paper to enable councils and young
people to develop facilities, was inadequate.

The green paper also proposes “opportunity cards” for children aged
between 13 and 16 who qualify for free school meals. These would
provide discounts on activities and could be topped up.

Teenagers would receive £12 a month on their cards, which
would be suspended or withdrawn if cardholders were involved in
antisocial behaviour.

Other proposals include moving the commissioning and funding for
advice and guidance from Connexions to councils. Only
high-performing Connexions services should be kept, it says.

  • Youth Matters from:

    Green paper proposals

  • An opportunity fund of up to £30,000 in each council that
    young people can spend on projects.
  • Councils to have Connexions’ remit.
    <25CF>ÊChildren’s trusts will develop an annual local
    offer about things to do and places to go.
  • Young people’s opportunity cards.
  • Targeted youth support teams to identify early on young people
    that need additional support.

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