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Positive Activities

Volume 467: debated on Monday 12 November 2007

7. What steps the Government are taking to provide facilities and opportunities for productive activities for young people. (161960)

In July this year, the Government launched “Aiming high for young people: a ten year strategy for positive activities”. Supported by £184 million of new Government investment, the reinvestment of unclaimed assets and £495 million of continuing funding, the strategy will improve young people’s life chances through participation in positive activities, improved youth support services and, over the next 10 years, new and improved youth facilities in every constituency.

I welcome my right hon. Friend’s response. We all know the good that such positive and structured activities do. I have in my constituency many disadvantaged young people who do not always have the family support networks that enable them to attend such activities. Will the Government be able to give any help to such people in my constituency?

I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s interest in this important topic—as, sadly, it does not seem to be exciting much interest on the Opposition Benches. There will be additional funding specifically for extended schools to enable children from poorer families who cannot afford to pay for activities to take part in them. Also, the “Positive activities for young people” scheme will be extended, with an additional £82 million over this period specifically for very disadvantaged areas. The youth opportunity fund will also have an additional and separate element of money specifically for the most disadvantaged areas, so we can make sure that all young people can take part in these activities.

Could the right hon. Lady comment on a problem that one of my tertiary colleges has? That college, in Cirencester, has responsibilities that come under her remit—such as the agenda for 14 to 19-year-olds, GCSEs and A-levels—but other responsibilities, such as vocational courses, come under the remit of the other Ministry concerned. Now that such responsibilities have been split up, it seems that the two ministries do not have joined-up government thinking. What is her Department doing about that?

I am grateful for that hastily thought-of question. We are working closely with our colleagues in the other Department. More to the point, it will be the responsibility of local authorities, with support from both Departments, to ensure that, through measures such as their 14-to-19 provision in schools and further education colleges, and bringing Connexions into the local authority arena to support young people with positive mentoring, every young person can get both the flexible package they need to make the best of themselves and the personalised support to make sure they can access the improved provision that the diplomas and other reforms will bring in.