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Youth Services (Derbyshire)

Volume 487: debated on Monday 26 January 2009

Local authorities receive funding for youth services from Government through the formula funding. Next year, that funding will increase by 6.4 per cent. In addition, around £1.2 million is also being allocated to Derbyshire next year through the positive activities for young people programme and the youth opportunity and youth capital funds. Over £3 million has also been secured to improve youth facilities in Chesterfield through the myplace programme.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer, which is good news for children in my constituency. I only wish that such funding for youth services had been available when I was a member of Derbyshire county council between 1993 and 1997. Then, because youth services were not on a statutory footing, they were especially vulnerable to the savage cuts imposed by the Conservative Government of the day. Will my right hon. Friend give me an assurance that measures are in place to protect the funding for youth services? That funding should be on a statutory basis and so not vulnerable to the sort of behaviour that we had from the Opposition in those years long ago.

I can tell my hon. Friend that, precisely for the reasons that he has identified, this Government have placed significant new duties on local authorities to ensure that all young people can get access to a wide range of positive activities. The Education and Inspections Act 2006 requires local authorities to secure positive activities and facilities for young people in their area, to take into account young people’s views on what that provision should be, to publicise it and to consider alternative third-sector providers. Failure by local authorities to fulfil those duties could result in intervention by the Secretary of State. That is a measure of our commitment to extending the opportunities for young people.