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Conference Countdown 2015: Call for better youth services

September 6, 2015 3:35 PM
By Caron Lindsay in Liberal Democrat Voice
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

I n the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we'll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

The final debate before the Leader's Speech is on the subject of youth services. The motion's promoters have been very busy this week, ensuring coverage on the Children and Young People new website. Mathew Hulbert told the site:

Hulbert said the Lib Dem Friends of Youth Services has been formed to campaign internally in the party to influence the party line on youth services in the current parliament and through into the next general election in 2020. "The other part of it is being able to speak out by whatever means possible, joining other people from the sector who are saying that young people are being dumped on time and again - whether it be youth services, or cuts to benefits. "What have young people done to deserve being treated in this way by government?"

There's also a new Twitter account for Lib Dems 4 Youth Services.

There is likely to be an amendment aimed at putting youth services on a statutory footing which Mathew says he would support.

There probably has never been a more important time for youth services as young people seem to be bearing the brunt of the government's spending cuts. Restrictions to benefits, especially denying Housing Benefit to under 25s, is bound to cause incredible hardship and because council budgets are being squeezed, support services are also at a low ebb.

The text of the motion is below:

Conference notes:

  • The commitment of the Liberal Democrats when in Government to improve outcomes for children and young people via the pupil premium, free school meals and other measures.
  • The significantly increased number of apprenticeships for young people.
  • Existing Liberal Democrat policy to put youth services on a statutory footing.

Conference notes with concern:

  • The depletion of youth services across the UK, leaving whole areas without youth provision denying many young people, particularly the most vulnerable, access to non-formal education, emotional support, an adequate youth voice in decision-making and our democratic structures and opportunities to develop their talents, social skills and pursue their interests.
  • The lack of attention being paid to equality issues in access to youth provision, whether it be LGBT+, BAME, gender issues or socio- economic divides.

Conference believes that:

  • Youth work has an important role in tackling inequalities, raising aspiration and supporting young people's social and emotional development.
  • All young people should have access to excellent youth services and qualified youth workers.

Conference calls for:

  • Liberal Democrats to commit to championing out-of-school youth services and for our MPs and education spokespeople in the House of Lords to speak out on these issues at every available opportunity. A commitment to do all we can, within the wider economic constraints, to press the Government to help local authorities rebuild and fund youth services.
  • The Government to initiate an immediate review of youth services, including a gap analysis in terms of quality, quantity and funding of youth provision across the country, taking account of equality issues.
  • A requirement for youth services to be included in the inspection regime.
  • Investment in workforce development and training so that all young people have access to excellent youth work.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings