Close on the calves of the CHOOSE YOUTH alliance’s manifesto, Children and Young People Now has produced its Manifesto for Young People, which it claims “throws down the gauntlet to government.” In many respects it’s a praiseworthy document, but I’m not sure the ConDems will be rushing to unleash sword from scabbard in readiness for a fight to the death over its impact on their forthcoming youth policy statement.
CYP Now editor Ravi Chandiramani rather gives the game away when he says : “These proposals aim to minimise the strain on the public purse and do not require an increase in regulation”. Hardly a gauntlet-throwing challenge!
Nevertheless CYPN is to be congratulated for aspiring to write ‘a manifesto for young people, not a manifesto for youth services’ , arguing ‘ it should be viewed through the lens of the users of services, young people themselves, rather than providers.’ But in the very next sentence, asking us, ‘are we sitting comfortably?’, CYPN inform users and providers that they “are relaxed about whether providers are in the public, voluntary or private sectors, mutuals or social enterprises, and foresee a mixed economy of provision.” In addition they decline to “touch on the mechanics of funding services.” I’m sure this is perceived by CYPN as a necessary exercise in pragmatism. But at best it is naive. Even if you are sanguine about the prospect of a mixed economy, you have to be deeply concerned about the way in which the ground is being prepared – a carnage of cuts and a direct assault on the independence of the voluntary sector – and you have to acknowledge that users themselves have been at the forefront of resistance to the onslaught.
However my response may well be too harsh. The authors summarise the main thrust as follows:
The manifesto sets out a coherent framework for action to provide all 13- to 19-year-olds in England with the opportunities to fulfil their potential and lead happy lives. It is based on the many contributions and suggestions from readers.
Specifically, the manifesto calls for:
- Every local authority to have a youth engagement body with budget-holding responsibility that also holds the power of scrutiny to challenge local decisions
- A national young people’s scrutiny board to advise the government and ensure policy is genuinely “youth-proofed”
- An entitlement for all young people that sets out minimum standards of provision of open-access services, specialist support and information, advice and guidance
- A young people’s workforce development strategy that comprises paid staff and volunteers, in order to ensure there are sufficient skilled and trusted adults to support young people outside of formal education
- An independent research and evaluation commission to build up an authoritative national picture of what services for young people have the most impact
- An independent annual report to parliament on the condition of young people’s lives and the quality of services available to them.
Ravi Chandiramani concludes, “taken as a whole, we believe the CYP Now Manifesto for Young People would have a transformative effect on young lives.”
Judge for yourselves and as ever your thoughts welcomed.