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Youth Services: Voluntary Sector

Volume 723: debated on Thursday 1 December 2022

3. What steps she is taking with Cabinet colleagues to help support the voluntary sector in delivering youth services. (902498)

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

This Government know the importance of local youth services, and we have guaranteed that by 2025 every young person in England will have access to regular clubs and activities, adventures away from home and volunteering opportunities. That is a clear commitment based on feedback from 6,000 young people, supported by £560 million of funding.

Last week I had the pleasure of spending my Wednesday evening with a group called the Squirrels, which is the new expanded offer from the Scouts, offering four and five-year-olds the opportunity to engage in new services. It was perhaps a refreshing change from this Chamber to spend time with 20 or so four and five-year-olds. More seriously, research by the Scouts has raised concerns about the rising cost of living, with parents unable to afford some of the fees for those services. In addition, the cost of delivering those services with rising rents and energy bills is putting pressure on organisations such as the Scouts. What support can the Government give to organisations such as the Scouts, which offer so many opportunities for young people, to help them meet that need?

The hon. Lady is right to praise the work of many of our non-military uniformed youth groups. I am pleased to say that, in trying to tackle many of the waiting lists across England, we will be investing about £15 million in the area. I also recognise the additional cost of living pressure and am working with the sector to ensure that we feed in all the issues that it faces to the Departments that are looking at them for the long term.

Together with the former Member for Stretford and Urmston and the National Youth Agency, I am chairing a review into the benefits of linking youth work with schools. What discussions is the Minister having with the Department for Education about how we can bring in more youth workers, including voluntary youth groups working closely with schools, to help some of the kids who are not so good at keeping in schools? When we produce our report in the new year, will he agree to meet a delegation from that report?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that question. He is absolutely right that it is important that there is joint working across Departments. We are doing that with the Department for Education and, in particular, looking to offer the Duke of Edinburgh’s award to every mainstream secondary school. I would welcome the opportunity to meet a delegation, listen to it and discuss the report’s findings.