HC Deb 10 June 1999 vol 332 c774
7. Ms Dari Taylor (Stockton, South)

If he will make a statement on his plans for the youth service. [85400]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment (Mr. George Mudie)

After analysing and considering the national audit of the youth service published last year, we are considering policies for the benefit of young people, including the role of the youth service. We will consult—in fact, we will issue a consultation document—on the future of the youth service, but context, content and timing will need to be determined once we have decided on the wider services for young people generally. I shall make an announcement in due course.

Ms Taylor

Does my hon. Friend agree that too many young people in the 13 to 19 age bracket feel excluded, and that far too many believe that they are criticised and blamed for the things that go wrong in our society? Those young people are definitely keen to be involved—although their participation is often not recognised. Will my hon. Friend consider how the voluntary sector agencies can participate in consultation about youth provision? The youth service—certainly in my constituency—is an able group, which could be involved, and participate at the appropriate level, with young people.

Mr. Mudie

My hon. Friend and the House will be aware that a main thrust of Government policy is ending social exclusion. I say time and again—whenever I have the opportunity—that the youth service plays an important role, and is a vital partner in allowing colleges, schools and universities to widen participation and end social exclusion. The voluntary sector can play a valuable role. For example, one of its great strengths is its willingness to provide new solutions and opportunities. We fund the voluntary youth sector through the scheme for national voluntary youth organisations, and the Secretary of State announced late last year fresh grants for 81 organisations and a 30 per cent. funding increase. We support the voluntary youth sector not only verbally, but financially.