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Youth Opportunity/Youth Capital Funds

Volume 455: debated on Thursday 11 January 2007

1. How many young people have been involved in the allocation of youth opportunity funds and youth capital funds; and if he will make a statement. (114148)

10. What steps his Department has taken to involve young people in the allocation of youth opportunity funds and youth capital funds. (114158)

More definitive data will be available at the end of this financial year. The data that we have so far show that more than 9,000 young people have been involved in making decisions about how the two funds have been used, and that a further almost 24,000 have been involved in developing and submitting bids for the funding. The guidance published on how the funds should be used makes it clear that young people must make those decisions. I expect the numbers involved to grow significantly as the use of funds develops over the next two years.

I thank the Minister for that answer. Tory-controlled Dudley council has just announced that it will cut all grant aid to voluntary youth projects in my constituency, so I very much welcome the youth opportunities fund and the capital fund, which give money directly to my young constituents to manage. So far, 16 projects in Stourbridge have been funded with those resources, including a Cyberbus and projects involving a climbing wall and basketball coaching, while disability and inclusion projects have also been funded in that way. A total of 318 young people have put forward project ideas, all of which have been considered by young people. A big step forward has been made to empower those young citizens and encourage them to make their own decisions, but will the funds be sustained beyond March 2008?

I thank my hon. Friend for that question, and for her support locally to ensure that the funds are spent as they are meant to be spent. The funding is designed to put decision making into the hands of young people so as to increase their participation and citizenship, and to increase the number of positive activities available for them. I wrote to all local authorities last February to make it clear that the funding represents additional resources made available for that specific purpose, and that it was not a substitute for local authorities’ mainstream provision. I am watching very closely to make sure that authorities in Dudley and elsewhere understand that that is the case.

My hon. Friend was right, however, to say that some exciting projects in Dudley and in her constituency of Stourbridge have been funded. As she said, 318 young people have been involved in submitting applications and the 16 projects include disability and inclusion projects, girl racers, peer mentoring and a Cyberbus. That shows that young people want to grasp the opportunity to decide what is available for them in their local areas.

Order. I note that this question is grouped with Question 10, which is in the name of the hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Khabra). Can the Minister assure me that he was notified of that grouping? That is significant, because he may enter the Chamber later. Can she tell me that he was so informed?

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, but I personally cannot confirm that. I was informed by my parliamentary section that the questions would be grouped.

Thank you. If the hon. Gentleman comes in later, I shall call him, as I have no guarantee at this stage that he has been informed of the grouping.