Councils across the country are ahead of the game when it comes to involving young people in decisions on spending their youth budgets, according to the Local Government Association. In its new strategy for young people the Government is calling for them to be given control over more of the budgets spent on positive activities.
The idea, which would see young people having direct influence over at least a quarter of that money by 2018, is one of the key planks of the 10-year Strategy for Positive Activities for Young People outlines yesterday. Welcoming the move, the LGA said involving young people in the design of youth services and giving them a say on how the budget was spent not only provided a sense of worth but also demonstrated trust and helped to boost low self esteem.
Les Lawrence, chairman of the Association’s Children and Young People Board, said, “The LGA has lobbied for and is delighted to see the beginnings of a shift towards aligned budgets with primary care trusts and the Youth Justice Board and we will continue to lobby further.” He said many councils were already involving young people with great success. In a little over a year authorities had helped 650,000 of them take the lead through the Youth Opportunity Fund and Youth Capital Fund initiatives.
He gave examples of what was being done by a number of councils, including Newcastle City which had worked with 100 young people to agree how 30,000 pounds of public money was spent. That budget is expected to rise to 70,000 pounds this year. The London Borough of Lewisham was running a scheme where the Young Mayor and advisers have responsibility for an annual budget of 25,000 pounds and in Darlington the Borough Council has expanded a local youth club and given money to a young band to travel to Amiens in France to perform and improve relationships with the twinned council. The Borough has also funded a crime cutting initiative.
The Government’s strategy would also see the continuation of the Youth Opportunity and Capital Funds, piloting ‘of coming of age ceremonies’ , more opportunities to bring together young people from different backgrounds and the expansion of schemes such as the Positive Activities for Young People programme. There would also be a National Institute of Youth Leadership to build young people’s leadership skills.