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Youth Services

Volume 467: debated on Monday 12 November 2007

It is for each local authority to determine its own budget on youth services, but the recent comprehensive spending review settlement for local government included an increase in formula grant of 4.2 per cent., 3.5 per cent. and 3.4 per cent over the period 2008-11 that will enable local authorities to build on 10 years of sustained growth to improve outcomes for children and young people. As well as that continued funding, there are specific areas where we will be allocating new money over the CSR period, including the expansion of the Youth Opportunity Fund in the most deprived areas, and investment in new and improved youth facilities and in positive activities for young people.

My right hon. Friend will have seen the imaginative programmes put together by students and young people from my constituency under the Youth Opportunity Fund. Mr. Speaker, you will be particularly interested to know that one of those schemes was entitled Destination Westminster and involved a group of young people coming here to learn about this place. I thank the staff of the House for their support for that scheme. My right hon. Friend knows that young people such as those and others within the cadet forces and other youth organisations do so much good in our communities. Will she ensure that they continue to have some control over their budgets under the youth opportunities scheme, especially with the expanded amounts of money that she has just described?

Yes. I congratulate my hon. Friend on his support for and interest in the cadet forces and the work that they do with young people throughout the country. It is true that the Youth Opportunity Fund has produced some spectacularly good projects. One of the reasons for that is the fund’s condition for the direct participation of young people in developing bids for projects, deciding how money will be spent and monitoring and overseeing that expenditure. Secondly, voluntary organisations such as the Sea Cadets, which can provide those structured and positive activities and trusted adults that we know are so important for the development of young people, have a key role.