Tories downgrade youth policy

I was astonished and saddened to discover this week that the Government appears to have downgraded the importance it gives to Youth Policy.

The ministerial role in which Youth Policy is included, the Civil Society brief, has been moved by no-mandate Prime Minister Theresa May from the Cabinet Office to the so-called ministry of fun, the Department of Culture of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS.)

When based at the Cabinet Office, youth policy was at the heart of government.

Now, of course, this didn’t by any means guarantee good decision-making on youth-related issues and, indeed, I disagreed strongly (and continue to do so) with the Tories doing virtually nothing to safeguard the future of vitally-needed out-of-school youth services and the role of professional youth workers.

But I think it a clear downgrading of youth policy that it’s been moved to DCMS.

Youth Policy, by its very nature, covers a full range of issues and to see it moved to a ministry whose sole focus is culture, media and sport (as important as all three are) means, to me at least, that youth issues are set to be all-but forgotten by this government.

On Saturday, at the Social Liberal Forum Conference in London, we heard from a leading member of the British Youth Council (BYC), which empowers young people to have a say and be heard, who referenced a number of issues they were campaigning on…including ‘Save Our Youth Services.’

I was pleased, during the Q&A that followed, to make clear that we Liberal Democrats, following the motion that I successfully moved at Lib Dem Autumn Conference last year, are now the only party to have a policy for youth services to receive statutory funding…therefore ensuring their surivival.

Thanks to the hard work, over many years, from a number of people including the wonderful and inspirational Linda Jack, the Lib Dems have some of the best policies on youth issues of any political party.

Of course, there’s always more to do and many of us will continue to press our parliamentarians and, through them, the government to do more and to go further to widen opportunity and access.

But, by downgrading Youth Policy from the Cabinet Office to DCMS, the Tories have shown how little they think it matters.

We Liberal Democrats must now be calling for the policy area to either return to the Cabinet Office or to be included in the responsbilities of the Department for Education, as we recognise the holisitic nature of education and how it is about much more than just what happens in the classroom.

As Chair of Lib Dem Friends of Youth Services (@LDFOYS), I intend to meet with as many representative groups of young people as I can to see how we can join together to ensure this important work remains high on the national agenda.

Our young people deserve nothing less!

* Mathew Hulbert is a parish Councillor in Leicestershire.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Phil Beesley 20th Jul '16 - 5:43pm

    Matthew Hulbert: “The ministerial role in which Youth Policy is included, the Civil Society brief, has been moved by no-mandate Prime Minister Theresa May…”

    Representative democracy throws up results that we don’t like. Since, like for ever, no government has achieved a majority at a general election.

    “When based at the Cabinet Office, youth policy was at the heart of government.”

    This sounds like a good idea. The voices of 14 to 24 year olds (adjust age range if you wish) had an ear.

    How about particular bodies for 25 to 34 year olds? Young lads tend to grow up at about 27 years — stats show that they are less likely to be involved in crime and more likely to take relationships and work seriously.

    Or 35 to 44 year olds, perhaps in a relationship and seeking a child after they’ve missed the optimum breeding period.

    As liberals, do we fight for identifiable groups or do we fight for everyone.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th Jul '16 - 5:54pm

    It says a lot about attitudes to culture ,that to transfer a policy brief of importance ,to the department that bears its name , is considered down grading !

    You are probably correct , in that it might be what is being done, but , as someone who is involved in developing a project for our party and beyond , on the creative industries and the arts , and the vital role of it in Liberalism and liberalism in it ,yes , indeed , culture is not to be sniffed at , but often is .

    Think of the plus side , the ways we do utilise the word , ie youth culture, and the new home might have more of an appropriate feel about it .

  • Tony Greaves 20th Jul '16 - 9:39pm

    Does this mean that the remains of the Big Society stuff has also now gone to DCMS?

  • Andy Boddington 22nd Jul '16 - 11:47pm

    Youth policy may have been at the heart of government in the Cabinet Office, but the government did little for youth. Maybe at DCMS, we might see some action. Would have preferred youth to be in the communities department though.

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