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eYPU Issue 304, 26 May 2010

26 May 2010

Events in Westminster

The new government has published The Coalition: our programme for government.  Key measures include:

  • National Citizen Service: a programme for 16 year-olds to develop skills needed to be active and responsible citizens
  • Refer under-25s claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance to be referred to the Welfare to Work programme after a maximum of six months
  • Improve opportunities for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities; including provision of internships for underrepresented minorities in every Whitehall department and funding of a targeted national enterprise mentoring scheme for BAME people who want to start a business
  • Introduce a scheme that will pay independent providers to reduce re-offending
  • Abolish the Comprehensive Area Assessment
  • Use monies from dormant bank accounts to establish a ‘Big Society Bank’, which will provide new finance for neighbourhood groups, charities, social enterprises and other non-governmental bodies
  • Improve the quality of vocational education, including increasing flexibility for 14–19 year olds and creating new Technical Academies as part of the government’s plans to diversify schools provision
  • Promote devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to local government and community groups
  • Help schools tackle bullying, especially homophobic bullying
  • Ensure a stronger voice for patients locally through directly elected individuals on the boards of their local primary care trust (PCT)

Public spending cuts

Chancellor George Osborne has announced details of the new coalition government's first £6.2bn of public spending cuts to be made this year. An Efficiency and Reform group chaired by the Chief Secretary David Laws and Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has been created to oversee the implementation of many of the savings announced.  The cuts include:

Local government

Local authorities have been instructed to find £1.165bn in savings. The government will also remove ring-fencing around over £1.7bn of grants to local authorities in 2010-11, to give them greater flexibility to re-shape their budgets and find further savings.

Department for Education cuts

The DfE has been instructed to make £670m efficiency savings.  Scaling back education quangos will account for £80m cuts.  The closure of Becta (the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) has already been announced, saving £10m this year.  Cuts in other education quangos include:

  • £15m from the Children's Workforce Development Council
  • £16m from the National College for Leadership of Schools and Children's Services
  • £30m from the Training and Development Agency for Schools
  • £1m from The School Food Trust
  • The Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency will have its budget reduced by up to £8m this year
  • The Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA), budget will be cut by £20m - the department confirmed that the YPLA would be left with a contingency budget despite the cuts

However, the DfE has announced:

  • Frontline funding to schools will be protected, and money allocated to individual school budgets for 2010-11 will not be affected by the reductions
  • 16-19 core participation funding will be maintained in 2010-11
  • There will also be £50m of Government investment in Further Education colleges, and
  • £150m to fund 50,000 new apprenticeship places
  • Money allocated to all local authorities for Sure Start will be protected for 2010-11, and the ring-fence maintained

The Queen’s Speech

The Queen's Speech (25 May) set out the new government's proposed programme of legislation.  There are 23 bills.  Of particular interest to the youth sector are:

  • Education and children’s bill.  Allows schools greater autonomy over what they teach.  The primary focus is in introducing the ‘pupil premium’ for disadvantaged students.
  • Academies bill. Allows more schools to become academies, giving them more freedom from Whitehall and local education authorities.
  • Welfare reform bill. Simplifies the welfare and benefits system, improving work incentives and ‘removing the confusing complexity of
    the benefits system’.
  • Health bill. Introduces ‘the devolution of power and responsibility to doctors and patients’.
  • Police reform and social responsibility bill. Makes the police more accountable through ‘directly elected individuals’. The bill will also create a dedicated border police force, ensure health and safety laws do not stand in the way of ‘common sense policing’ and overhaul the Licensing Act.
  • Public bodies (reform) bill. Cuts the number of quangos, with a view to saving £1bn a year.
  • Decentralisation and localism bill. Gives more power to councils and neighbourhoods. Also gives residents the power to instigate
    referendums and veto excessive council tax increases.
  • Parliamentary reform bill. Introduces fixed-term parliaments for 5 years.  It also gives voters the right to recall MPs found guilty of serious wrongdoing and sets up a referendum on the alternative vote system.
  • Freedom (great repeal) bill. Restores freedoms and civil liberties and repeals ‘unnecessary’ laws.
  • Identity documents bill. Abolishes the identity card system and destroys the national identity register.
  • Local government bill. Stops the creation of unitary councils in Exeter and Norwich.

Children and Young People Now has produced a useful who’s-who guide to new MPs with children’s sector interest.

Youth Justice

It has been announced that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) will now have sole responsibility for the Youth Justice Board – responsibility was shared previously between the MoJ and the then DCSF.  Conservative MP Crispin Blunt is to be the new Minister responsible for youth justice.

The Joint Youth Justice Unit is set to be renamed the youth justice policy unit under the sole responsibility of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).  Launched in November 2007, the joint unit was created with the dual purpose of developing policy and bringing together the agendas of the MoJ and DCSF to ensure that the Every Child Matters programme was adhered to in the youth secure estate.

Education, employment and training

The DfE has published the latest quarterly statistical bulletin which shows that 927,000 young people aged 16 to 24 - 15.3 per cent - were classed as NEET between the start of January and end of March 2010.  This represents a rise of 32,000 – 3.5 per cent – compared with the last quarter of 2009. 195,000 of those NEET young people are aged between 16 and 18.

Health

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published draft guidance which seeks to improve access to contraception and advice for young people.  NICE aims to ensure all young people can access contraceptive services at convenient, accessible locations such as schools and youth clubs. The draft guidance also includes a number of recommendations to help all young people obtain the full range of contraception methods.  The draft guidance has been issued for public consultation until 23 June 2010. Final guidance is expected in October 2010.

Participation

The NYA has published the full report of the Participation Review Strategy.  The report captures the overall process across meetings, focus groups, interviews and e-surveys, as well as recommendations.

Resources

YouthBank UK has launched an Assessment Toolkit to assess youth led Grantmaking panels. The Toolkit aims to provide YouthBanks, Youth Opportunity Fund and other young people led grant panels with a process and ideas for assessing and improving their grantmaking practices.  Copies of the toolkit can be purchased from YouthBank UK for £40.  YouthBank UK will also be delivering a number of training events on how to use the toolkit. The training will be aimed at workers, but young people are also welcome to attend. The first event is on the 6 July 2010 in Leicester and places are £150 per person (including a copy of the Assessment Toolkit), if you wish to attend please contact YouthBank UK (youthbank@nya.org.uk or call 0116 242 7446).

The Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) has produced a guide for new Councillors to help them understand their role and carry out their duties effectively. The guide contains a short introduction to children's services and the voluntary and community sector.