Created: 26/02/13 16:10|
Michael Gove responds to VCSE youth policy letter
Education Secretary Michael Gove has written to NCVYS in response to our joint open letter, sent on behalf of 127 VCSE organisations, all of whom raised concerns over his Department's approach to youth policy. Following remarks from the Secretary of State made during an Education Select Committee, NCVYS co-ordinated a sector response voicing strong reservations with his comments.
You can watch the relevant footage from the Education Select Committee here http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=12362&st=10:10:00
The full text of the NCVYS joint open letter is below, but you can also access a PDF version via the above link.
NCVYS co-ordinated open letter to the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP regarding youth policy:
Dear Secretary of State
As the leaders of a number of key youth charities in England we are writing to ask for urgent clarification of the remarks you made in your evidence to the Education Select Committee regarding Government's intention to relinquish its responsibility for youth policy to local authorities. Not only does this seem a major reversal in policy one year after the publication of Positive for Youth which pledged cross-governmental support to young people, but it also raises huge concerns for us as organisations concerned for the well being of young people in our country.
We agree that local government has a key role to play in ensuring adequate provision of support services to young people and we believe community groups, voluntary organisations and businesses all need to play their part in engaging young people and delivering services. However, we need central Government to ensure that all aspects of policy – be they health, education, employment, criminal justice and community engagement – articulate coherently a framework that ensures a strong and seamless mesh of support in the often difficult transition between childhood and adulthood. This cannot be left to local government alone but needs to be coordinated and championed centrally.
There is too much at stake - not just for the lives of individual young people but for all of us. Surely at a time when the Government is hoping to kick-start a troubled economy, we cannot afford to lose sight of the contribution that young people make. Yet it seems that instead of placing young people centre-stage, this Government is marginalising them. The results are all too obvious: the latest figures show youth unemployment bucking the otherwise downward trend in unemployment figures, and the number of young people not in education or training remains at an all-time high. Many would directly attribute the disproportional cuts to youth services (estimated by the Department this week to be 26%) to a lack of policy directive from central government. The laissez-faire approach currently favoured by Government will, at best, jeopardise the success of initiatives such as the National Citizen Service because the infrastructure to deliver it is eroded; at worst, it will risk social unrest.
The solution is simple and within your gift: young people need an overarching policy framework that minimises complexity and confusion, maximises the effective use of scarce resources and encourages collaboration amongst service providers. We also need an education policy that considers learning in formal and non-formal settings as complementary and of equal importance, giving clear guidance to local authorities that they need to maintain quality youth services with appropriate investment. Only a coordinated approach will ensure that young people have life chances and aren’t consigned to the scrap heap of policy failures.
The anniversary of the publication of Positive for Youth offers a unique opportunity to review whether a range of policies are working for young people and what leadership is needed from central Government in areas where we currently fail. Our organisations, and we individually, are happy to offer you and your department support in facilitating such a review but we urge you not to take the unconscionable action of consigning overarching youth policy to the inconsistencies that often arise as a consequence of local decision making.