Services for young people - Education Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers 1-82)

Fiona Blacke, Charlotte Hill, Liam Preston and Susanne Rauprich

26 January 2011

  Q1 Chair: Good morning, and welcome to the first evidence session of our inquiry into services for young people. I'm delighted to have the four of you with us today, setting the scene for further evidence sessions. I'm delighted to say that a huge number of pieces of evidence have been submitted to us. I think we're at 240,000 words and counting, so quite a lot of views have been put to us. We're quite informal here and will use first names if you're all comfortable with that. May I start by asking you to tell me one hope and one fear you have for youth services at the moment? Who shall I pick on first? Fiona.

  Fiona Blacke: My hope would be that, in the new context, we find a way of delivering a comprehensive offer to young people in every part of England. That would include high-quality youth work as well as a range of activities. My fear is that the rapid cuts that are being made at the moment are diminishing the capability of the sector both to grow from the bottom up and to continue.

  Charlotte Hill: My fear is that we're going to lose some really excellent people in these cuts. A lot of our members and a lot of the people who work with young people are losing really good staff in the short term, so my fear is that we'll lose some excellent youth workers. My hope is that we're able to keep some of the really great universal services that stop the need for the targeted services—that we don't lose those universal services and just go down the route of targeted services.

  Susanne Rauprich: My hope is that, in a challenging situation, the creativity of people delivering the service will prevail and we will come up with some really interesting, different ways of delivering services that we've become used to—accustomed to. My fear is linked with the staggeringly high unemployment rates of young people and the fact that without supportive wrap-around services for young people, to help them through this challenging time, we will have a generation of young people with very little, and devastating, prospects.

  Chair: Yes. It could be said we already have that.

  Liam Preston: My hope is obviously that we don't lose a generation of young people who feel that every opportunity that their peers have had before them seems to be taken away from them now. I hope that doesn't continue. Cuts to the youth sector and youth services are another reason why young people at the moment really feel that they're getting a hard time. That's one of my fears. My hope is that we're able to resolve that somehow.

  Chair: Thank you. After that brief warm-up, I'll move on to Bill.

  Q2 Bill Esterson: First question: what would you say is the purpose of providing services for young people? Is it simply to divert them, as some would say, from misbehaviour?

  Charlotte Hill: It's an incredibly depressing outlook if that's really what people think we're here for.

  Bill Esterson: Hence the "some would say".

  Charlotte Hill: Absolutely. I think if you ask people out there who are working with young people, they'll say they are doing that because they want to give young people every opportunity they can to experience as many things as they can, to realise their potential, to go out and achieve as much as they can, and to get all the learning outside the classroom that they can as young people. The idea that youth services are just about stopping young people becoming criminals is a really depressing outlook.

  Fiona Blacke: I would like to add to that. I think that youth work in particular is a deliberative educational approach that has its own pedagogy and professional base. Every one of us at this table could tell you transformational stories about young people, particularly marginalised young people, who have engaged with youth workers in a positive way. So there is a part of youth work that is both protective and diversionary, but it is more than that. It's a bit like saying that schools keep young people off the streets for six hours a day.

  Susanne Rauprich: The problem is with the narrative. It is much easier to defend a discipline that seems very difficult to understand among those who are not effectively engaged with it. Therefore, the narrative has always been around prevention and diversion and so on. These are absolutely useful aspects of it, but they only work because there is a universal underpinning of the services that are provided, and because there is a whole-person approach, so that it is positive, encouraging, challenging and all those things, as well as diverse.

  Liam Preston: Young people value these services immensely, and it is not just about keeping them off the street. These are valuable tools that they are able to do after school and on weekends. For them, it is an important aspect of their lives. It is not just about keeping them off the streets or out of crime.

  Q3 Bill Esterson: Moving on to the right balance between universal and targeted services, you made the point, Charlotte, that your ideal is to keep great universal services so that there is less need—I think that is the phrase you used—for targeted services. The Government's comment on this is that they are looking for an evidence base for targeted intervention. Will you comment on what the right balance might be, and talk in particular about vulnerable young people who might get missed by schools or elsewhere? What is the best way of identifying them and providing them with the sort of support that they need?

  Charlotte Hill: I think that, where there are really good universal services, they can identify the young people within them who might need some targeted support, so I don't think that the two need necessarily be exclusive. What works really well is if you can have a universal service and targeted work as well. There are lots of examples throughout the country of where targeted work does absolutely fantastic and important work, but I think that, without the universal work, that will become increasingly the point.

  In terms of young people not picked up through education, we at UK Youth run youth achievement foundations for young people who have been excluded from mainstream education, but again we use very much a youth work model for re-engaging young people, and I think that that could be done a lot more through youth clubs. This is a real way to re-engage young people who have been disengaged from education for one reason or another with learning through non-formal learning approaches. It is a really good way for them to then go on to education after that.

  Fiona Blacke: I think I understand some of the dilemma that local authorities are going through at the moment. If you talk to directors of children's services with very squeezed budgets, the kinds of conversations that they are having are on the notion that the services that they actually want to invest in are those that are going to bring long-term cost savings in high-end preventative services. That is quite a rational approach. The difficulty in the universal-versus-targeted debate is that, if you have a universal provision that some people self-select for, there will inevitably be some young people in that provision who, if they aren't part of a youth club or a similar activity, probably will end up needing high-cost, high-end services, because they will become involved in risky behaviours.

  What we don't have is a sophisticated model that says, "You're going to be the one who needs it, and you're going to be the one who doesn't." So if you take away that preventative universal offer, a whole host of unidentified young people will end up needing bigger support. That is the difficulty. It is actually quite easy to target those young people who are already in the sights of social services, and you can and should target services at those young people in care. There are young people on the streets and involved in criminal behaviour. It's those young people who just need a bit of a hand to be supported. That's the difficulty in the kind of conversations that are happening at the moment.

  Q4 Damian Hinds: I just want to ask a little question. We talk about universal services. Obviously, there's universal availability of some things in theory, but what proportion of young people do you think these services actually touch? What proportion actually comes into contact with them, as opposed to the number who could?

  Fiona Blacke: I was dreading you asking me how many services there are, because the reality is that this is an incredibly difficult field to define. It ranges from, potentially, the small voluntary community organisation run by parents who are doing something in their community for their kids on a Friday night. Nobody can count that, either the people who are doing—

  Q5 Damian Hinds: Just focus on things that are in receipt of some public money; whether it's national money or local authority money, somehow the taxpayer funds—

  Fiona Blacke: We don't have the mechanisms to count that.

  Susanne Rauprich: Just as an indicator, a few years ago, before the last Government embarked on a programme of stimulus, the figures were fairly small. There were targets around 25% of young people accessing youth services. That's the funded services. Then of course there will be others. The reality is that there are a large number of young people out there who are never touched by young people's services, whose parents send them to private educational classes or whatever it is. There is a range. Young people have different backgrounds. There is a huge cohort. Young people's services—youth services—have traditionally been focused in particular communities. It would be fair to say that although quite a number of them are universally available, the young people using them have tended to be those from less privileged and less advantaged backgrounds.

  Fiona Blacke: Our audit, which was last conducted in 2007-08, suggested that 28% of 13 to 19-year-olds were in contact with some form of youth service.

  Q6 Chair: I just want to press you on that a little. In effect, there aren't universal youth services. They might be genuinely open, but if you look at a typical town, they'll probably be on the estate with lower socio-economic advantage. Within that estate, what percentage of the most disadvantaged in that area of disadvantage use the universal youth services? Are they the hardest to reach by youth services? What evidence is there that youth services have a way of reaching people who otherwise tend to be excluded?

  Fiona Blacke: I think that's a curate's egg. It will be highly dependent on the approach of the particular youth services. There are some open-access services that are very good at that. There are some that, I have to say, are not particularly good at it, so they can't deal with young people who have extreme behaviours or whatever. The critical thing is the extent to which that provision has a mechanism to refer to more specialist—

  Q7 Chair: It's just that, again and again in this Committee, we're looking at services that are trying to offer a broad range so as to engage people without stigma, and then trying to see to what extent they reach those who are most in need. With Sure Start centres and other things, again and again it seems as though we struggle to see how they can make sure that they reach those who most need their support.

  Susanne Rauprich: I think there is an issue with the youth sector. You will have come across that with the collection of management information that would make policy decisions easier. It is notoriously difficult to capture provision of a service that is provided by a full range of providers, spanning the voluntary and community sectors as well as local authorities. There is no common data set that organisations would use. What you do have is measurements and head counting in organisations themselves, but that is never pulled together by anybody. The National Youth Agency is probably the best agency in terms of collecting figures by sending a survey out to local authorities, but that's really all we have.

  Chair: My own experience as a councillor setting up a youth club was that, over time, more and more of the children and young people you most wanted to come to the club became excluded from it and were standing outside it. That seems to go through a cycle. Back to you, Bill

  Q8 Bill Esterson: I'll develop that point in a minute. Liam, do you want to have a go at the previous question?

  Liam Preston: The only thing to add to what my colleagues said is that it is very sporadic and depends really on what area you live in. You can have fantastic services in one area, but 10 or 15 miles down the road there is very little. For young people, that distance is a huge barrier. Something that is equal in all areas would obviously be more advantageous for every young person.

  Q9 Bill Esterson: Picking up Graham's point about mixed background services, are they beneficial for the service or outcomes, or not? What is the evidence? What are your points of view?

  Fiona Blacke: One of the reasons why youth work is important as a distinctive professional activity is that trained youth workers are very good at working with some of the most difficult and marginalised young people. All sorts should often be targeted towards that, but if you don't have a universal base of services, where do you receive those young people back to? What does that mean for a group of young people who are constantly having to be intervened with by professional youth workers? You need what I think has been described as windscreen wiper, with high-end services which young people can be referred to when they need them, but there also has to be a place where they can go back to and get a general level of support. If you don't have that full range of services, you keep young people fixed in one place—that is why the debate about just having targeted local authority services is a dangerous one.

  Bill Esterson: Anyone else want to add to that?

  Charlotte Hill: I would agree. One of the really valuable things for young people is mixing with people from all sorts of different backgrounds. Why would you want a youth club that just has the naughty kids or the kids with problems? That is not of benefit to them, nor to anyone else. The whole point is that where you have youth clubs, youth services or any sort of projects or programmes working well, you have kids from all sorts of different backgrounds mixing together, so they can see all the different spectrums of life and all the different challenges that some people might face, but equally, the opportunities that are out there for others. It is the social mix that is really important. The fear is that, if you just have targeted services, you will just have groups of young people from certain, specific backgrounds all together, and you would lose that social mix.

  Susanne Rauprich: The issue is obviously one of funding. As Fiona has already said, in times like this public sector funding needs to be invested very carefully. You would expect that it needs to be targeted at those young people most in need, but we do have a full range of voluntary sector provision out there—quite a lot in fact is not dependent on public sector funding. Where local authority provision works very well, it works very well with voluntary sector provision, and it is able to take a view as to where you might have universal provision as well as targeted provision in any one area. My particular fear is that partnership mechanisms, which really ought to be strengthened at a time like this, are also at risk in certain areas, which is quite short-sighted.

  Liam Preston: To give some background to the different backgrounds of the young people, in relation to this Committee we asked for case studies about cuts in services and how the services are used. We found that 59% told us that they were on a low income or from a low-income family, 39% had been victims of bullying, 28% lived in isolated rural areas and 21% had mental health issues. So, there is a wide range of young people using those services—again, it is really important to have a universal service that is able to impact on such people at an early stage, in order to find more preventive measures which might be needed later.

  Q10 Bill Esterson: One question that comes out of that asks how universal any service really is. It tends to be located in a particular area, and often the reason is because it was identified as being a hotspot. Is that just an inevitable fact of the development of youth services?

  Susanne Rauprich: I don't think that there would ever, even in the best of times, have been sufficient funding available to ensure that every single young person has access to a place in a youth facility. Also, not every young person would want that. So, yes, to some extent it is inevitable.

  Q11 Lisa Nandy: As a follow-up, Charlotte, you said earlier that one of the great things about youth services is that they bring more people from different backgrounds together, but Bill's question is really also about whether that can actually happen when so many communities are so socially polarised already. If you have a youth service that is physically located in one community, are there ways of making sure that it brings young people from different backgrounds together?

  Charlotte Hill: It is a different picture in different areas. There are some examples of great youth clubs that might be located in an inner city, but surrounding them is not just one type of young person—you've got all sorts. One street might be quite affluent and the next street across might not be particularly. I agree with you. Obviously there are some areas where you will get groups of young people from a particular background. But there are lots of examples where young people from different mixes come together in inner-city youth clubs.

  Susanne Rauprich: I just wanted to say that we must not view youth services as being only location based. That is a large aspect of young people's services, but we do have things like Duke of Edinburgh awards, school-based youth work and a whole range of different facilities that take young people out of their estates and their locations. They are used by a wide range of young people from all sorts of backgrounds.

  Fiona Blacke: It isn't necessarily only about geographical mixing. You'll have community centres that bring together disabled young people and young people who don't have a disability. That's about social mixing. You'll have provision where it's okay for young people of different sexualities to be together, and that's made available. Sometimes it is about one location, but there might be lots of different groups of young people using that with different interests and challenges.

  Q12 Craig Whittaker: I have three wonderful young children, two of whom, Sophie and Beth, have spent a huge amount of time volunteering with the Kuleana Street Children's Centre in Mwanza in Tanzania. Sophie is still there and is in her second year. Beth, our 16-year-old, has just come back after spending three months there. Is this a ploy from my children to get away from their father, or is volunteering quite normal for youths? If so, what proportion of young people in the UK do you think spend time volunteering?

  Fiona Blacke: We did some research on that, and we think it is age dependent. There are 26% at any one time, with about 52% reporting that they have volunteered at some point between the ages of 13 and 18.

  Q13 Craig Whittaker: What projects in particular do you think have been successful in engaging youths to volunteer?

  Susanne Rauprich: I would say that there is not any one model, because a successful project that engages young people in volunteering, or indeed in any other activity, is one that starts from where the young person is at and engages them in their interests and their needs. It basically puts quite a lot of urgency on to the young person to develop their own projects and solutions. Because of that I am personally a fan of Youth Action, which has projects right across the country where young people have a look at what is needed in their local area or community—whether geographical or otherwise—take the initiative and devise a solution. Those can be hugely empowering, and indeed life-changing, projects for young people. The reason why your daughters are going to volunteer is obviously because separation is necessary during their transition to adulthood. That is something we need to encourage. Youth services provide a very safe place for young people to do so.

  Q14 Craig Whittaker: Okay, so what do you think of the new national citizen service then? Does it add anything new to residential programmes, for example, or to personal development and volunteering activities in general? What is your general perception?

  Charlotte Hill: With volunteering generally, the message that comes back to us is that it has to be properly supported. It is one of those things that is great. We really want to encourage young people to volunteer—they want to engage and volunteer—but there needs to be an infrastructure to enable them to do it. That infrastructure has to be properly supported. We welcome the national citizen service. It is brilliant that one of the Government's flagship things is around non-formal learning and recognising that a lot of the work we do is valued. The challenge is to make sure that, beyond that six-week programme, there is a supported volunteering network and the opportunities to be able to carry on with that. We cannot just assume that that will happen. There must be a plan and a structure around supporting those young people who have been through NCS, whether they are the 11,000 this year or the 33,000 next year, to continue volunteering. There will be some challenges around the residential element of NCS, particularly fitting the programme into a six-week window for what might be 580,000 16-year-olds.

  Q15 Craig Whittaker: Following up on your point about having the structure to ensure that volunteers continue, what evidence do you have to suggest that they will not do so? My experience is that they do.

  Charlotte Hill: I think young people want to continue, they just need the opportunity to do it. Fiona's statistics show around 25% do, but in the NEET cohort—the young people who are not engaged otherwise—a much lower percentage of young people are engaged.

  One of the admirable goals of the NCS, in particular, is that they want to engage all young people from all backgrounds. The young people who are hard to engage in these programmes will need that real support and that network to present them and support them with opportunities to continue volunteering afterwards.

  Q16 Craig Whittaker: Does anyone have a different view?

  Liam Preston: I have found, from speaking to young people up and down the country, that they like the idea of NCS. They are concerned, however, that their own youth services are being cut in their areas. They think a six-week programme and going away is a great idea, but their worry is, "What's going to be left for me afterwards if everything in my local area is being cut?" We surveyed 1,000 young people on the NCS: the majority—53%—said that they were in favour of the idea, but 20% were not, and 27% just did not know (Young Voices: BYC 2010). So, at this early stage, I am not sure whether there is information for young people to be able to make a decision and understand what the NCS is and what it would do for them.

  Fiona Blacke: The cynic in me says that successive Governments each brought in a new programme of volunteering for young people, whether that was Millennium Volunteers, V or now NCS. Susanne is probably better placed to talk about this than I am, but the reality is that there is an incredibly rich infrastructure of pre-existing organisations that promote, develop and enable young people to volunteer.

  Like Charlotte, I think that the NCS is a good idea. The notion that there is something significant at 16 as a rite of passage is interesting, but it would have been more powerful had it built on the existing infrastructure and programmes. That would have addressed some of the problems, which Charlotte has identified, of young people being supported into and out of the programmes.

  Susanne Rauprich: I agree with everything that has been said. I add that I think that several organisations, and the cadet forces, have proposed on several occasions that their programmes be badged—or might have the potential to be badged—"National Citizens Service". That might help the Government to resolve a fairly logistical problem about how to go about offering the range of opportunities that must be in place to cater for the whole cohort. NCVYS member organisations are absolutely up for that and would welcome such a move.

  Charlotte Hill: I support that. There is a whole range of programmes that are doing fantastic things already with that group of young people. For example, Fiona and I work with O2, running its Think Big programme, which has a residential element and all sorts of training and support—the young people go through a fantastic process. There are opportunities with corporate partners such as O2and others. Perhaps the Government could work with them and support, or register, their programmes to be part of an NCS programme. There would be opportunity to help with the finances, so that this could become something that all young people could do. It would also mean that there would be many different ways of providing the service. Everybody would be getting a fantastic, valuable outcome, but it would not necessarily have to be that one-size-fits-all, six-week programme in the summer. There are some opportunities to explore.

  Q17 Craig Whittaker: I want to pick up on a point that Fiona made. The NCS is not like anything that has gone before it; it is a much bigger and more encompassing programme, as I understand it. Do you not feel that that would be a huge facilitator to encompass and engage far more youth than are currently engaged in youth services in general?

  Fiona Blacke: I think it would, but my point is that it would be more effective if it was able to build on the provision that is already there.

  Q18 Chair: Is there any reason to believe that it will not? If the Government bring it forward from an idea and then pilot it—they obviously don't think they have all the answers—to deliver transformation and participation before and after the central 16-year-old experience, are not they likely to seek to build on what is there and to get others to work with them to make it a success? If so, are there any barriers and risks?

  Susanne Rauprich: The design of the National Citizen Service was informed by the work of a range of youth organisations, which we welcome. There is nothing wrong with the programme or project as it stands. The issue is one of logistics, in that creating one stand-alone programme that builds on the principles and work of many organisations is fine but, in parallel, there is a range of other programmes that would deliver the same desired outcomes. For example, you cannot necessarily expect the Scout Association or the Duke of Edinburgh award to change something that they have been developing over decades. They would obviously do so to a certain extent, but it would be much easier and logistically better if such programmes could be given an opportunity to continue what they do under the mantle of the National Citizen Service, which would reach an even larger number of young people.

  Chair: If you have any further thoughts about the downsides that you have not already submitted to us, it would be interesting to know about them. The trouble with major Government programmes is that they often crush and destroy very good things that previously existed.

  Q19 Charlotte Leslie: I have a quick question on the NCS. We have a quote from the In Defence of Youth Work campaign, and I am interested in one thing it says about the NCS and its relevance. It states: "The irony of the Citizens Service is that of course a Young People's Service is needed, but for 365 days a year"—and this is the interesting bit—"staffed not by entrepreneurial opportunists, but by dedicated, trained volunteers and professional workers".

  As a candidate, I saw a lot of youth work in my Bristol constituency, which is incredibly diverse—there are very well-off wards side by side with very deprived wards. I have seen tensions with council youth services, which move out like a sort of army and often leave a wake of authority that young people often do not engage with that brilliantly. Some workers are absolutely brilliant, however, so I wouldn't want to stereotype. There is a tension between those services and the real community workers, who don't get paid and just start things up, often without funding—they raise money themselves from the local community. Is there a tension between organised local authority or Government organisations and grassroots community groups? That appears to have come up in the In Defence of Youth Work campaign.

  Fiona Blacke: Will I start?

  Susanne Rauprich: There is tension only when it is badly managed, to tell you the truth. There does not have to be tension. Of course, every now and again, you come across somebody who regards themselves as the authority on all things and won't necessarily value the contribution of so-called amateurs. That is a completely misguided way of looking at things, but we have 150-odd local authorities in this country, and practice is as varied as that number. There are plenty of examples of local authorities working extremely effectively with voluntary organisations and where the role of a paid local authority employee is to encourage and support community action—to support volunteers and make their lives much easier. A balance needs to be found. We don't have it right everywhere, and that is the reason why you have those quotes.

  With regard to the particular point about entrepreneurs, I would welcome loads more of them because, based on the statistics that we have just heard, even in good times only about 28% of young people are reached—although probably more through uncounted voluntary activity. However, there are still not enough opportunities for young people, so whoever wishes to get involved should be given the opportunity and support to do so.

  Chair: Does anyone want to disagree with that? Are all four of you broadly in agreement?

  Q20 Craig Whittaker: In line with your scepticism—although that is probably not the right word—about the involvement of other organisations in the NCS, bearing in mind that this year is only the first of a pilot, and that only 12 organisations have been awarded contracts, what makes you think that other organisations will not be involved?

  Fiona Blacke: I do not think that it is an organisational issue. Many of those delivering the pilots are well-respected, existing youth organisations that are predominantly in the voluntary sector. They have other programmes.

  Q21 Craig Whittaker: So do you have evidence to show that those programmes will not be involved in the services?

  Charlotte Hill: I think that Fiona's point was that they would probably stop running their own specific programmes and do NCS instead. Some colleagues said at a meeting on Monday that it was a bit like turkeys voting for Christmas, in that they have their own great programmes already that deliver many such outcomes for young people, and if they were to deliver NCS during the summer, it would be to the detriment of those programmes.

  Fiona Blacke: If you could do your Duke of Edinburgh gold award and that would also be your NCS when you were 16, wouldn't that be great? That is the answer.

  Q22 Chair: The Government could, at a time of limited resource, spend a lot of public money to create a badged "NCS" that would have come about anyway. Is that what you are saying?

  Fiona Blacke: A set of quality standards and activities were the key elements of NCS. Organisations running programmes like that could ask to be recognised as delivering it, and with quite a large infrastructure already in place, they would be able to offer it.

  Q23 Lisa Nandy: How relevant are youth services to young people?

  Liam Preston: Again, it depends on the specific youth service. We are receiving case studies from throughout the country suggesting how much youth services actually benefit young people and how much they have changed their lives. Young people change so much between the ages of 11 and 18, so youth services are relevant to them and have a huge impact on their lives.

  Q24 Lisa Nandy: Is there evidence that the current youth services are the services that young people want?

  Susanne Rauprich: We have to be honest. There are still a number of services that are not necessarily what young people want. Bad practice does exist. Not too long ago, for example, there was a big drive to get some youth facilities to open up on a Friday and Saturday night because that is when young people really want them. If you follow the principles of good youth work and shape the services around the needs and the wants of young people, and get them to take an active role in their design and delivery, you can be certain that they will deliver. However, if you shape youth services around the needs of the worker who has a family to go home to, around local authority imperatives or around the fact that a caretaker needs to be paid on a Saturday night but that is not feasible, you are on the road to creating a service—

  Q25 Chair: Name names, Susanne. People always generalise about bad practice and never ever tell us where we can find it. Does anyone want to tell us about a local authority area? The Audit Commission has said that there is a correlation between budget and quality of youth work, but that that is not universal. There are sometimes people with a smaller budget but an ability to deliver great outcomes, and others with large budgets who do not deliver, probably for the reasons you are giving. Can you tell us about anyone?

  Witnesses: No.

  Fiona Blacke: It is an interesting question. I was talking earlier about youth work being a distinctive educational approach. What makes it distinctive is that the curriculum does not come in a book, package or prescription, but derives from the young person with whom we come face to face. Their life experience forms the nature of the curriculum to which a good youth worker works. We take that young person's life experience, develop the curriculum and then create structured experiences with them that give them the opportunity to reflect on what they have learned and done, and to take that learning to other places. It is not really youth work if it is not relevant to the young person—it is activities or something that adults choose to do. Youth work, by its very nature, is relevant to young people, because that is what it is.

  Q26 Lisa Nandy: Liam, you mentioned involving young people in their own services. My experience of when young people genuinely drive and control their own services has been incredibly positive. However, too often there is a blurring of the boundaries between consultation and participation. Genuinely youth-led services should involve a budget that is controlled by young people. How far is that a realistic aspiration? Does that happen at the moment? If so, can it continue to happen, given the level of cuts to services that we are about to see?

  Charlotte Hill: From our experience, for more than three years we have had UK Youth Voice, which is our young persons' panel that sits at the heart of all that we do. They sit on our board of trustees—they interviewed me for my job—sit on all our committees and plan all our programmes. They manage all their own budgets. They are completely equal members of everything we do, but that is not a cheap thing to do properly. It required a lot of support for us to have the really meaningful participation of those young people. Equally, unless you are very careful about really wanting to hear the voices of all young people who use your services, you will get a self-selecting group of young people who will put their hands up because they want to do it. We have worked really hard. We have a programme called Hearing Unheard Voices, which works to get the voices of asylum seekers, ethnic minorities and young people in or leaving care—all sorts of groups—heard so that we have really meaningful participation but, again, that is not a cheap or easy thing to do. To do it meaningfully and get real outcomes takes investment, and local authorities have to recognise that they must invest some of their money in exactly that. Great work such as the British Youth Council's needs investment. If you really want young people to have a voice, you must put some money into it.

  Liam Preston: We support a network of 620 local youth councils, and we are finding that there are areas of best practice where local authorities really engage with their local youth councils to review services. Ofsted recently said that a key to achieving success and improvements in those areas is making young people part of the reviewing process (Supporting Young People - an evaluation of recent reforms, 2010). In one survey of local youth councils that we conducted, 62% felt that they were able to improve youth services by being part of that process, so we feel it is a really important issue (Young Voices: BYC 2010). Young people want to be able to influence the services that they use, and who is better placed to speak to local government about those issues than young people themselves?

  On the issue of cost, if you tailor a service to what young people need and let them review it, rather than getting other people to come in, it will end up saving money. The end user reviewing a service is always going to be better than someone from the outside.

  Lisa Nandy: With the limited funding now available, should we recommend that funding should be allocated to services that are led by young people?

  Witnesses: Yes.

  Fiona Blacke: That would be a great recommendation.

  Susanne Rauprich: May I add something? I think that youth participation has come a long way over the past few years. What is really interesting is that if, for example, you had here the young people who have been through the Young Advisors programme that started a few years ago, you would see that they are now feeling entrepreneurial and want to set up their own services. Your recommendation should include the opportunity for young people to be entrepreneurial.

  I understand that you are going to visit Berlin in the next month or so. I ask you to look at a project there where young people are fully in control, given the keys to facilities, or allowed to run things without the presence of adults. We have come so far in this country and have a range of really good young people's participation, involvement and leadership programmes, but there is always that little bit of discomfort with adults handing over control—this country does not seem too comfortable with that as yet.

  Q27 Charlotte Leslie: I think that we are all agreed that a certain amount of young people's ownership of their services is a good thing. In hard economic times, how much merit do you think there is—and to what extent is it already happening—in young people taking control of the financial realities of the services they are using, and introducing them to the reality that stuff does not come for free but takes a lot of money and hard work?

  Fiona Blacke: Under the previous Administration, one of the great successes was the youth opportunity fund and youth capital fund, which were distinct, ring-fenced elements of the budget that local authorities gave young people to control. There was huge scepticism among elected members about whether young people would make sensible decisions, but the evidence is that they did it extremely well.

  Q28 Charlotte Leslie: And also in terms of actual fundraising, which I say because I have been involved in a project in Henbury in Bristol where the kids wanted something—we didn't have access to grants or anything—so they went out and raised the money themselves. What sometimes gets overlooked is that the Government are not the only source of funding. Obviously you need that sort of support, but there could be merit in the kids doing more fundraising themselves, which makes them appreciate what they have fundraised all the more.

  Fiona Blacke: The O2 initiative, which we manage for O2, gives young people direct funding to run their projects, and then UK Youth trains them to deliver those projects. If they are successful, they get even more money to do it. That is about community-based projects, often for other young people, and it is incredibly successful.

  Q29 Charlotte Leslie: Is that actually saying that there's no grants or bigger bodies at all, and that they just get out there and do sponsored runs and stuff, and the community gets the money? Is it that they don't take money from a big pot or a council or anything like that, but they make money?

  Witnesses: Yes.

  Q30 Charlotte Leslie: Is that an emphasis we need to shift to so that kids can actually make money when they don't have money to begin with at all?

  Fiona Blacke: There is one challenge about that, though. It's probably not too bad, I suspect, in your constituency, but it might be more difficult in Middlesbrough.

  Charlotte Leslie: Well, go and visit Henbury.

  Susanne Rauprich: What you are describing is very good youth work practice. It happens up and down the country and has done for a number of years. Young people seeing something they want to do and needing to make it happen is an absolute basis of youth work.

  Q31 Charlotte Leslie: There is not always a pot of money for you; sometimes you have to do it for yourself.

  Susanne Rauprich: Exactly, and we have been doing that sort of fundraising for ever, so it wouldn't be a new approach you were promoting, but you would be supporting good youth work practice. That is absolutely the right thing to do.

  Chair: We are now going to move on to funding.

  Q32 Neil Carmichael: Before we do, can I just ask about social enterprises for young people? Would you encourage them to establish those, with the sort of projects and activities that you have been talking about?

  Susanne Rauprich: Absolutely. There is good work being done by social enterprise, and it is being taken up in schools and so on.

  Q33 Neil Carmichael: Moving on to funding, which is obviously an important aspect of this, and mindful of the fact that my own county council has been reducing funding for these services, as many have, what kinds of youth services and providers are being prioritised by authorities in this time of expenditure reductions?

  Charlotte Hill: Susanne is probably very well placed to answer that, as NCVYS have done a fantastic survey, looking around the country through its members, of the impacts and where cuts have fallen. The feedback we are getting from a lot of our associations around the country is that these decisions have not been made yet; a lot of them are in limbo. The feeling they get is that decisions on spending for young people, in particular, are way down the priority list of spending decisions that have to be made. Many of our organisations face the challenge that either decisions are not being made yet, or the people they need to speak to about those decisions are facing redundancy themselves within local authorities. The uncertainty that people have about their own jobs in local authorities is passed on to our members.

  Q34 Neil Carmichael: So there are no trends emerging at this stage?

  Charlotte Hill: I think, Susanne, that there probably are.

  Susanne Rauprich: Yes, there are a variety of high-level trends. We are seeing anecdotal evidence as individual projects report what is happening to them. If the Committee is really interested in getting an overview, there are now a number of organisations that monitor the effect, and the reports are updated daily. We have produced a report called "Comprehensive Cuts"—there was part 1 and part 2. I don't know whether you have looked at that, but I can leave you a few copies. We update that regularly, and we have a financial blog, which my colleague, Don, who is sitting in the background here, updates as information comes our way. As Charlotte says, at the moment we know the level of cuts that are being considered, proposed and decided upon by local authorities. How that then filters down to individual projects is a little too early to say. I can also tell you that in some local authority areas, they look at 2011 and 2012 as a sort of transition, which is a really interesting approach. They have to make top-line cuts, but they are basically working with the voluntary sector quite effectively—that is their intention—to re-create and reshape services for young people.

  To finish, you will know that the funding of youth services is not mandatory, so it is quite easy to encounter a climate in which significant cuts need to be made. Local authorities that are dependent on area-based grants are more susceptible. We see more severe cuts being made in those areas, so again the picture is not even across the country. There was one authority that was reported to have an increase, but that was just one example. Right across the board, all we are seeing is significant reductions to services for young people.

  Fiona Blacke: The most recent survey of children and young people's services by directors of children's services suggested that 80% were anticipating cuts to children's services, and 56% of the cuts were directed specifically at youth services. It would be useful to be able to say that there is a common picture emerging across the country. The reality is that far-sighted local authorities, which are really thinking about how to modernise and deliver public services in the new environment, are doing a lot of work around the needs base of their youth population and their communities. They are beginning to develop strong approaches to strategic commissioning, and then they look at who is best placed to deliver that. This is not based on a conversation with themselves about whether that is an in-house or a voluntary sector provider. It is about saying we can actually model the specifications of what we need for our young people, and then put that out to whoever is able to deliver it. In some places, local authority youth services are forming themselves into social enterprises and co-operatives to try to deliver that. In other places, there are quite sophisticated models of third sector supply chain management emerging, with one overarching organisation being able to manage a host of services.

  Q35 Neil Carmichael: So you're expecting a fair bit of dynamism in developing services.

  Fiona Blacke: That's a nice word for it, yes.

  Chair: Driven by desperation.

  Q36 Neil Carmichael: Youth workers are obviously vulnerable in these cuts. I don't know of any statistics yet. I don't know if you do. What is your feeling about the direction of travel there?

  Fiona Blacke: There are some big challenges at the moment. Over the past few years we've moved youth work from a diploma to a degree level qualification. The changes in funding to higher education are directly influencing the training of youth workers, because courses that were previously subsidised will no longer get those subsidies. There are big issues. Where do people make their cuts first? They make them in terms of training and development and continuing personal development, and that whole area of the work force. We share a view that one of the great things about youth work and youth services is that they are often staffed at a professional level by people who started as a volunteer in their own community.

  Chair: We'll come to training later. Let's stick to funding for now.

  Q37 Neil Carmichael: You, Fiona, have commented that in an environment of reductions in public expenditure, desirable services may be vulnerable. You contrasted that with essential service provision. Could you describe to us what you think is essential and what you think is desirable?

    Fiona Blacke: It's a really difficult question. Absolutely essential is a comprehensive youth work offer to those young people who are most marginalised and most at risk, if I had to put my hand on my heart. Alongside that—this is the critical thing—is an investment in supporting communities, voluntary and community sector organisations to move into the rest of the space. The notion that you target your resources on those who most need it, but at the same time, you grow the capacity for communities and young people to deliver to the rest, is where the priority lies.

  Q38 Neil Carmichael: Presumably that latter point is in terms of infrastructure.

  Fiona Blacke: It is colloquially known as market making. One of the issues is that a lot of local government procures rather than commissions. You put out a contract and buy it, but commissioning is much bigger than that. It is about saying, "Do I have the infrastructure to deliver the services that I need? If I don't, I have to invest in creating that infrastructure."

  Q39 Neil Carmichael: You are touching on an important point there, because the role of local authorities is changing from a provider role to an enabling role. Do you think that local authorities are equipped in capacity and outlook to bring about necessary changes to what you just described?

  Fiona Blacke: Some are. The challenge is to enable the best to lead the worst. Part of the challenge for those of us who work at a national level is how we collectively put in place the mechanism to enable local authorities to understand what it is they need to do, and to have the kind of dialogue with the voluntary and community sector and young people that enables us to do that.

  Charlotte Hill: There are examples of really great practice in local authority commissioning, and there are, unfortunately, examples where they are floundering a bit. Mr Dakin, I believe that you are from Scunthorpe. North Lincolnshire is an example where we have worked brilliantly with the local authority and it has commissioned fantastically. As I mentioned earlier, we deliver Youth Achievement Foundations for young people who have been excluded. Our first pilot Youth Achievement Foundation partnering with 7KS is in Scunthorpe. The local authority there has done a fantastic job of commissioning that service out over a number of years. It has worked so well because it gives a contract for three years to extend to five years. It means that in working with 7KS we can recruit staff and invest in a building, because we know that we have a customer to work with. It has worked really well.

  There is a panel that the local authority sit on, all the local heads sit on and the Youth Achievement Foundation sit on. They look at a case-by-case example of whether a young person should be excluded. There is no actual exclusion. There is a managed move; they come to a foundation and there is a long-term relationship. That commissioning relationship works fantastically. There are examples of best practice out there that have been happening for a number of years. It would be good if more could be done to ensure that that best practice is shared among all local authorities, because where it is working, it is working really well.

  Q40 Neil Carmichael: What sort of mechanism do local authorities have to share best practice? We know the statutory functions that they have.

  Chair: Neil, before we deal with the entire next section on commissioning, I wonder whether you have any further questions on funding before I come to Nic on precisely that topic.

  Q41 Neil Carmichael: Sorry, but funding and commissioning are very closely linked, for obvious reasons. We cannot discuss one without discussing the other. Sometimes I have to be hauled back to the track. Written evidence that this Committee has received so far has talked about the effect of cuts from 20% to 100% in youth services. That is a huge range. Where do you think that the actual figure lies, and what evidence do you have to back that up?

  Fiona Blacke: I think it's a moving picture. As Susanne has said, a lot of the reports say that this is an interim year and many local authorities are trying to buy themselves a bit of space to make decisions. There are some places where they are talking about completely removing the youth services. There are propositions to do that. Even in those places, I am not sure that the decisions are finalised. Those authorities are looking for alternatives. I do not think that we can say yet.

  Charlotte Hill: Even if we cannot say what the percentage is, we are clearly seeing a lot of the impact. Where contracts are ending in March, people are having to lay their staff off. We are losing a lot of good people who deliver fantastic work for young people. Ultimately, it may well be that they are re-employed, but the fact is that they are having to be laid off now because those contracts end in March.

  Q42 Neil Carmichael: Last but not least, what balance should exist between funding from the public sector and funding from other sources, such as charity and voluntary funding? I do not expect a definite answer, just an overall picture.

  Chair: Particularly in the light of Graham Allen's early intervention report, which suggests that he will produce another report looking at private sector bonds. Perhaps also in the context of payment by results, too.

  Susanne Rauprich: That is an interesting question, albeit a difficult one to answer, because there are so many interlocking and interlinking factors. If you take a large chunk of public sector funding out of the system, you will have to replace that somehow if you are committed to services to young people. There are two sources from which that funding might come.

  One is from the young person or the user themselves. That might be difficult, particularly if you are looking at disadvantaged young people, because they are also hit by cuts in income and so on. So their spending power might be limited.

  You then have the private sector. Such funding is in its infancy, and it is something on which providers would welcome the support and help of the Government—and others who are in a position to do so—to act as a broker bringing private sector funders into the market.

  At this moment in time I find it difficult to get a sense of the appetite of private sector companies. There have been some real success stories, one of which is O2. The Co-operative has spent a lot of money on young people and has launched a huge programme. But we haven't seen a universal understanding among corporates that they should be considering investment in any kind of programme. Corporate social responsibility programmes need to be developed. There are too many companies that think that they can send their work force out to paint a wall in a youth club and that it is done with. It is complicated, therefore, to come up with a figure that would answer your question.

  Q43 Neil Carmichael: So you want more sophisticated CSR strategies?

  Susanne Rauprich: Absolutely.

  Fiona Blacke: There are models emerging of more sophisticated CSR.

  You also asked about social impact bonds, and one of the issues is that we don't have a framework or a metric for the social return on investment of youth services. So, rhetorically, we would tell you that, yes, it's good for all parts, it reaches the parts that other things don't reach, but we don't have the evidence base. That's one of the things that we are developing at the moment, because, in order to secure social finance, you have to be able to demonstrate that you're having an impact.

  Chair: I'm going to have to cut you off. I'm sorry.

  Q44 Pat Glass: From April 2011, all central funding for youth services, including the 10 separately ring-fenced budgets, will come together in the early intervention grant, which will be £2 billion by 2014. That grant has to support Sure Start centres, which cost £2 billion on their own, and it has to cover the cost of extending free education to two-year-olds and the cost of short breaks for disabled and vulnerable children. It also has to support programmes targeted at preventing children from engaging in crime and at tackling substance misuse and teenage pregnancy. It has to provide support for children with mental health problems and children with learning difficulties, as well as transition arrangements, collections, behaviour support services, CAMHS, paramedic services and SEN services. Where do you think the youth services will sit in that list of priorities? What will be the consequences for young people?

  Liam Preston: Where do they sit? Probably quite low down that list, which is one of the reasons we are discussing this issue. It is a concern for young people. We estimate that 50 local youth councils have already gone in the past year. So there is a sense of "What are we going to do"? Because, again and again, local councils are finding it easier to drop local youth services from their budget, which is a disheartening thing for young people to have to go through.

  Q45 Pat Glass: What would be the consequences for those using universal or open access services? What about for those using targeted services?

  Liam Preston: Again, it is really difficult. It is easier to find the numbers of people who use targeted services, and it is almost easier to justify that as expenditure, because you can back it up with figures. However, I have already mentioned how helpful and beneficial universal services are, because they will often be more preventive than targeted services.

  Fiona Blacke: I honestly believe that failure to invest in targeted and preventive services for young people is an economic time bomb, that we will pay for in future. Staff at Fairbridge, for example, can tell you that if they are working with a young person involved in the criminal justice system, they can keep that young person out of the system for £4,000 a year. The cost to the state of having that young person in a custodial place is £65,000. You don't have to be an economist—and I'm certainly not—to work out that that is bad maths.

  Nic Dakin: Thank you for the plug for 7KS, which I visited the other week.

  Chair: I have visited it as well.

  Q46 Nic Dakin: Though that is largely commissioning within the school day context, it none the less may be a model that can be used more broadly. I have spent my whole working life with 16 to 19-year-olds, so I know how diverse and transient they can be. They are growing and have dynamic lives. Therefore, I am interested in how we use those young people in helping commission services in a sustainable way. Charlotte in particular recognised earlier that there needs to be an infrastructure to support that. Today's thing isn't tomorrow's, and today and tomorrow can be quite close together for young people. I am interested to hear from Liam how young people's voices can help deliver the strategic commissioning that we were talking about earlier.

  Liam Preston: One of the most important factors is having young people at the table and involving them in the decision making. They will often know what is required of their peers and the people around them. It is essential for young people to be able to be involved in that decision making and in making an impact on the projects that are commissioned. One thing we find is that when young people speak against cuts in their services, local government is saying, "It's not us. It is at national level that we are being told to make cuts." Then when young people are talking nationally, they are told that the decisions are made at local government level. They are finding that they are up against a brick wall. In order to improve these services, young people need to be at the heart of what they are doing. It is about being youth led and having youth at the table. That is what we think is really important.

  Q47 Nic Dakin: Local authorities have the role of strategic commissioning. You were saying interesting things, Fiona, about the difference between commissioning and procurement. How do we involve young people in that strategic commissioning, particularly of those harder-to-reach activities, for which young people are less likely to come forward? Other young people will commission their own activities because they will find where they are. They won't necessarily be at that table. How do we manage that?

  Susanne Rauprich: You might be familiar with the commissioning cycle. It has different elements. Rather than just say we involve young people in commissioning, it is often easier to involve young people in different aspects of the commissioning cycle. You absolutely have to involve young people, for example, in needs assessment. There is a variety of ways of doing that, by employing the local youth council if it still exists, talking to a range of young people directly—there is a whole range of different methods that can be used right through the cycle. In Devon, they appointed a young commissioner, as a model, and that has worked quite well. The Department for Communities and Local Government considered that to be an effective model and appointed four or five commissioning beacons. It might be worth your while looking at that as an example of where young people can be used fairly effectively. The beauty is that we have a wealth of experience of effective methods of involving young people in creative and varying ways, depending on circumstances.


  Charlotte Hill: There's a lot of expertise and good practice about this out there. There are organisations such as the British Youth Council and UK Youth. Some local authorities do it brilliantly. The real problem is that the sharing of good practice just does not seem to happen effectively, for some reason. Some local authorities do brilliant work with engaging young people in commissioning. A piece of work has to be done—it may be happening already, and I just don't know about it—on sharing that good practice, or on using the expertise of organisations that do participation as their bread and butter.

  Q48 Nic Dakin: Are there any recommendations that we should be making?

  Liam Preston: Of the local youth councils in 2009-10, seven out of 10 administered a youth opportunities fund. Young people on the ground are actually doing this already. Going back to Charlotte's point, it is about sharing that best practice and getting more involved in areas that are not quite already up to scratch.

  Fiona Blacke: There are several recommendations you can make, Nic. First, there is support for commissioners, which is driven by central Government. It would be very helpful to recommend that part of that commissioning support advice was support to commissioners about how engage young people effectively. The other thing is that the DCLG could be helpful, as could the Local Government Association, in driving the sharing of that best practice. We are part of the Local Government Association's top-slice family.

  Q49 Chair: Haven't the Government suggested, although talking about localism, that they are going to send some sort of recommendation on the proportion of services provided by the third sector as opposed to local authorities? Is that right, or am I mistaken in thinking that?

  Fiona Blacke: I haven't heard. In terms of levers, one thing that would be helpful is some kind of consensus about commissioning standards. For example, if every local authority said, "We will only commission organisations that build young people's voice into the heart of the services we offer," that would go a long way.


  Q50 Damian Hinds: We had a conversation earlier, mainly with Fiona, about the numbers of people involved in youth services, and I think you mentioned a figure of 28%. I have to say that that sounds very high to me, although I could be mistaken. I don't know if that analysis is already in your written submission to the Committee, but if it's not, could you include it—down to the lowest possible level of detail?

  Fiona Blacke: Yes.

  Q51 Damian Hinds: That would be very helpful. Similarly, for all four of you if possible, if you have any hard data on trends over time in this sector, for example on the numbers of people employed, and particularly on young people's own reporting of their experience, for example survey questions on, "There's nothing to do round here," and so on, it would be very useful for the Committee to be able to see how things have changed.

  I want to talk about results and effectiveness. Most of us, when we see a good youth club or facility or meet an inspirational youth worker, regard it as self-evident or intuitive that they are doing a good job. But what evidence is there of effectiveness? In a world of scarcity, choice and cost, particularly when we are talking about allocating public funds, what—beyond the Fairbridge example that Fiona gave; I do not know whether that is an isolated example—do we have as broader evidence that helps us to know where to put effort and funding?

  Susanne Rauprich: It's very difficult to have a universal picture, because there is no universal metric. You have individual organisations that are very good at demonstrating the impact of their work, and there are lots of organisations that are not so good. Mainly, the larger charities and voluntary organisations would be very good at telling the story. That is why Fairbridge is a good example that can be cited. Catch22 and the Prince's Trust can be cited. Those sorts of stories are there. Anecdotal evidence and young people's stories, of the nature that you were asking for, are also available. You go round and you can have young people telling you stories about how a certain intervention has changed their life, so that is there. However, what is really difficult, in terms of evidence, is to put that into some sort of national grid or set of statistics for the amounts of investment, whereby we could show the total amount of investment and the total amount of return, and a straight journey from A that will always lead to B. That is quite difficult. That is the problem that we're facing.

  Fiona Blacke: The answer is that there isn't a single evidence base. That is one of the things that makes decision making incredibly difficult.

  Charlotte Hill: It's something that we, as a sector, have to get better at.

  Damian Hinds: I was going to observe that, too.

  Charlotte Hill: Absolutely. I am relatively new to the sector, but it is now universally agreed that people are going to look at results, and they are going to need outcomes and evidence. Increasingly, people are realising that. It is not impossible to do. I think that people have traditionally said that it's really hard and asked how you can measure whether a young person hasn't gone into the criminal justice system because of the intervention. There are, however, definite measurements, and we've been working very closely with Teesside University's Social Futures Institute over a number of years now, looking at exactly that. That's the thing. It's going to take some time to build up the long-term impacts, but it is happening. People are realising that we absolutely have to start having very clear independent measurements of the impact that youth work has. The sector is moving towards that, but it has been too slow.

  Q52 Damian Hinds: For good or ill, that is the world we're living in.

  You mentioned one academic study. Who is leading this work in your sector? Why haven't we heard about it?

  Fiona Blacke: Because we're just beginning. We are probably now going to tell you about 10 different examples of people who are leading it, which is always a worry for us. We're doing some work with the Young Foundation to develop a similar calculator—we hope—to the one that is being used for family intervention.

  Susanne Rauprich: The Greater London authority is funding Project Oracle, which has the ambition of bringing together a sort of metric for London. The Prince's Trust has just embarked on another exercise. You have heard from UK Youth and the NYA. There are already many organisations out there that are doing it quite well for their own circumstances and that have invested quite heavily into things like that.

  The problem is that there is no overarching and universal way of doing it. That is going to be difficult. What is most needed is, I suppose, certain standards, which can be agreed against, and then it is up to each organisation to use their own measurement tool to describe their work against those particular standards. What we don't need is yet another measurement tool, of which there are plenty; what we do need is an agreement on the standards.

  Q53 Damian Hinds: Are there plenty of robust, universally accepted measurement tools? If there are, we haven't been talking about them this morning.

  Charlotte Hill: Lots of people are doing lots of different things. I don't think that there is one robustly agreed measurement tool.

  Susanne Rauprich: It is the agreement thing that is the problem.

  Q54 Damian Hinds: Have any of you called Graham Allen to talk about his study on early intervention and to ask to piggyback either on phase one, which has just finished, or on phase two, looking at social impact bonds?

  Susanne Rauprich: That's an opportunity that we are obviously looking at. We should take advantage of that.

  Charlotte Hill: We've been in touch, but we'll certainly be following up on that, because, again, we are looking around social impact bonds and bonds particularly around investment for young people who have been excluded.

  Q55 Ian Mearns: Probably going back 15 or 20 years, the NYA was pretty much data rich back in those days, wasn't it?

  Fiona Blacke: It was. Those were the days when we were funded by the Government to do that.

  Q56 Ian Mearns: In the absence of that infrastructure, is the fact that you are all here, and representing fairly diverse parts of the youth programme that is out there, not an opportunity to bring some heads together and commission some joint research between the different organisations at the table and bring in others? Let's have a go at that, because it seems to me that we are using a bit of a scattergun approach at the moment and not getting any great results from it.

  Susanne Rauprich: There are two different elements to that. On the one hand, the issue is the data. They are very simple management information data. About three or four years ago, we did a study that looked at the management information needs for the voluntary sector and we found the same picture. If we asked organisations such as the Duke of Edinburgh award, they would be able to give the answer just like that because they had invested really heavily in management information. What is needed is quite heavy investment. To put in the system and manage it, we priced at something like £2 million. We do not have £2 million to put into something like that. It would probably have to be a central investment, or a wealthy backer would have to be found from somewhere. That is why it has never been established. Social impact tools are a little easier.

  Q57 Ian Mearns: I am wondering whether the sector in conjunction, say, with the LGA could start talking to each other.

  Fiona Blacke: We are. We are talking together. There are incredibly rich and quite strong partnerships between all the organisations that are here. That is one piece of work that we have not done. It is certainly something that we could do.

  Charlotte Hill: We do all work together, but we need to do it a lot more. There is a lot more we could all do together. We are all aware that there are lots of shared things. Tools for evaluation is a sector that we must put our heads together on a bit more.

  Q58 Damian Hinds: Given the challenge and where we are on the timetable, how do you see payment by results working in the sector, and when?

  Susanne Rauprich: We would welcome payment by results. It is an interesting concept. It lends itself to some areas where outcomes can be clearly specified, so for universal services it is a little more difficult. It is probably easier for some targeted youth services. We hope that we can commission someone to look at that in greater detail. It will not be before the end of this inquiry, but we hope to keep you informed as it develops. Obviously, there are certain issues with the payment of results. One of them is how voluntary organisations in particular manage it, in that the risk is obviously passed on to the provider.

  Damian Hinds: Partly.

  Chair: It depends who is commissioning it.

  Q59 Damian Hinds: You do not have to design it badly; you can design it well.

  Susanne Rauprich: Absolutely, so that would be our main concern. Payment by results is based on that principle. Organisations have to guarantee that they deliver and are therefore paid for it. There are risks, which might be difficult to bear, particularly for smaller organisations. Our reservation is that you would have to be imaginative and make sure that the funding schedules would allow the smallest to participate.

  Q60 Chair: It seems an extraordinary failure that you cannot make a better fist of explaining what a difference you make. If we look at youth, in particular, we have NEETs now. I know that it is not only about avoidance but enrichment as well, but throughout the period of the previous Government, the number of young people not in education, employment or training just went up and up to 2007, when there was record economic growth—and more NEETs. Of course, there has been the downturn and the problems, and the figure has rocketed again.

  There are a million such young people, and to an extent, we are hearing, "You have to keep the status quo, because we do a great job. We have no evidence for that, but please support us, and these dreadful cuts will hurt young people." To an extent—I am taking the controversial view—people are saying, "Young people have been let down. Something has gone pretty savagely wrong, and the very groups that work with them and have a particular duty to work with the most vulnerable do not seem to have come forward. They don't seem to be able to evidence their ability to help stop young people ending up in the dead end, where a million currently find themselves." Discuss.

  Fiona Blacke: Organisation by organisation—whether or not it is a Connexion service, and I have run one—they can evidence that to you. Individual organisations, as a sector, cannot do that. Part of that is because of the diversity of the beast that you are talking about. It is almost difficult to describe us as a sector. We are so different—from the very local to the statutory service, to the private deliverer. The funding streams from the Government have been so different. NEETs programmes would have been funded by the Learning and Skills Council and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Funding for youth would have come from local authorities, ring-fence funding would have come from here and money for participation would have come from CLG. You name it, that's where it's been. The sector has struggled as a consequence of that.

  Q61 Chair: As we write a report that makes recommendations that the Government have to respond to, do you want to add any thoughts on recommendations that we can make? Because times such as this come periodically—as long as we haven't ended boom and bust—it is very important that the value that you deliver can be evidenced in such a way that decision makers with limited pots can allocate you money. At the moment, they appear in many places not to be doing so.

  Charlotte Hill: I certainly think that some capacity-building within the sector would be hugely valuable as a recommendation from this. I agree with you that the bigger organisations are able to do it, but lots of organisations out there don't. They have never properly invested in evaluation and in really recording in a meaningful way their outcomes, outputs and impacts. They have been doing fantastic work, but they have not necessarily had the tools to measure the impact. It is a huge bit of work that could be supported as a recommendation from this.

  Q62 Chair: Of course, if local authorities have the overriding duty for the well-being of their young people, which they do, they should have been working out what part you play in delivering their ability to reduce NEETs, to enrich people's lives and so on. I wouldn't put it all on you.

  Charlotte Hill: Just quickly on payment by results, a lot of the feedback we have had from smaller organisations suggests that they have two problems with commissioning. First, if you are not a big organisation you might be the best placed organisation locally to deliver, but you cannot engage in the commissioning process. Secondly, payment by results prevents you from being able to do it, because you would need some sort of part-payment up front.

  Q63 Chair: It doesn't have to be broken down to that level. Someone who is being paid by results can, even without massive amounts of rich data, decide that they believe that in order to deliver the outcomes on NEETs or whatever they are being paid for, actually, youth services are part of that. They can decide to invest money and pay it to commission the service without requiring endless data collection, because they believe actually, it is part of a joined-up approach.

  Fiona Blacke: Health services, I have to say, are traditionally much better at commissioning in that kind of way than youth services.

  Q64 Damian Hinds: It is absolutely crucial for the smaller organisations that have to blossom that first of all there are mechanisms. To return to the conversation I was having with Susanne and Fiona, you don't have to design these things badly. There is a role for you people as leaders in this sector to make the case for how you design those things well. Secondly and critically, for the smaller organisations in particular—but even the bigger organisations, frankly—the last thing anybody wants to do is to drown them in a sea of measurements. There have to be judicious, sensible ways of doing these things which let people get on with what they do best. Sorry—I realise that these are supposed to be questions, not statements.

  Chair: You're following my bad example.

  Q65 Neil Carmichael: What's clear from this evidence session is that there really isn't any planning strategy, or whatever, for youth services. What sort of shape should we be thinking of for such a strategy in terms of our final conclusions? How should we deal with the fact that you are obviously having relationships with so many different structures, some of which are not necessarily accountable and some of which are clearly not talking to each other?

  Fiona Blacke: I think I'd be rich if I knew the answer. That is an incredibly difficult question.

  Charlotte Hill: I also think it's quite difficult to have an overarching strategy. The fact is that if the Government want local authorities to make decisions at a local level, it is up to the local authorities how they want to commission the youth services and what they want to spend their money on. I don't see how, at a national level, it is possible to do that if you are really meaningfully saying, "You're making your decisions at a local level."

  Fiona Blacke: But there is something about standards. Inspection looks like it's going to go for youth services. We need to have some nationally agreed standards for what a great local youth service should look like; I think that would be helpful. I am not saying levels and I am not talking about prescription, but I think a shared view about what good looks like might be helpful.

  Q66 Chair: Or outcomes.

  Fiona Blacke: Or outcomes.

  Q67 Neil Carmichael: I am now straying into territory on which I haven't really done any research, but I am making an assumption because we are going to Helsinki and Berlin as best practice then good practice for us to see. Have you thought of looking in northern Europe, for example, and asking several questions, such as how is delivery organised, is there any sort of benchmarking, and are there any structures that effectively ensure that best practice is shared?

  Chair: Susanne?

  Susanne Rauprich: Well, as you can tell from my accent—

  Neil Carmichael: I'm from the north-east, so don't worry.

  Susanne Rauprich: Anyway. I wish we had more opportunities to look a bit broader, to see how other people run certain things. As NCVYS, we have ourselves been to Berlin, in September. We went, for example, to look at a system of accrediting volunteers and their achievements, because we think that that is a really good scheme which, ideally, we would like to import into this country. It would be about recognising the efforts of volunteers and certificating them in some way, so that they are more widely recognised. So, yes is the answer—we do look elsewhere and see where we can learn from best practice. I am sure others have as well.

  Fiona Blacke: We now run for the British Council the European Youth in Action programme, so we are hoping that that will provide some opportunities for the whole sector to look more broadly across Europe.

  Charlotte Hill: Just to add, we are a member of an organisation called ECYC, the European Confederation of Youth Clubs, so we do a lot of work with colleagues across Europe. In fact, we have invited all the chief executives and presidents from across Europe to come in May—they are all coming to England and we will be looking at some of this shared practice of our new areas. There are lots of examples of sharing practice.

  Liam Preston: We're the national youth council of the UK, so we engage in the European Youth Forum and speak to other national youth councils across Europe, again to engage in best practice as much as possible, and to see if it works and how best to assimilate it.

  Q68 Tessa Munt: A Government report in 2002 said that perhaps we ought to aspire to having one youth worker to 400 young people aged 13 to 19. How far along that route might we be? Charlotte's pulled a face, so—

  Charlotte Hill: I was just thinking that I have no idea how near, or not, we are to that. I assume we are absolutely miles away from that. I don't know if you have got statistics?

  Fiona Blacke: I've got 2007 statistics, which suggest that there were 8,273 full-time equivalent staff employed, which was an average of 46 per local authority.

  Tessa Munt: Great.

  Fiona Blacke: Compared with 51 in 2006—even then the trend was going down.

  Q69 Chair: Do you have any figures further back?

  Fiona Blacke: Again, the trend seemed to be going down in that period, I think. I can certainly let you have these statistics.

  Q70 Tessa Munt: That would be helpful, thank you.

  The other thing I wanted to ask you about particularly was what the practical effect of removing higher education funding from the courses for youth work will be, and about the practicalities of the realism around whether professional youth work should hold an honours degree or not. May we explore that a little bit, please?

  Liam Preston: Obviously, the British Youth Council was opposed to the raising of tuition fees. We think that will have a huge impact on young people aspiring to go into doing youth work. I think it has already been mentioned, those young people who have volunteered or who have possibly even gone through youth services themselves will often aspire to and want to continue into that field. This £9,000 has become a barrier—

  Q71 Chair: Can you explain how?

  Liam Preston: Because you obviously need to have a degree to be able to participate in that area. It is the feeling of some young people that that fee is too much for them to want to go and aspire to do that particular job, whereas previously, as mentioned, a lower qualification was needed.

  Fiona Blacke: Perhaps I can add a bit of detail to that. Let us start at the end of the question and work back.

  If we are looking for highly skilled professionals to engage with young people, many of whom are marginalised, disadvantaged and mistrustful of adults, in a way that develops such young people but is not formalised by a classroom setting, then, yes, you need people who are qualified to degree level and whose practice has been assessed in the field by other qualified practitioners, so you know those people are good enough to do that job. I would argue all the time that it is at degree level, it is a profession and it is a degree-level profession.

  The challenge with HE funding and the changes in the funding mechanisms is that, in the past, youth work degrees were funded in such a way that they had additional funding to enable the practice element to be paid for. They are expensive degree programmes, because half the time is spent in assessed practice, and there is the academic study. The changes in the funding formula will mean that that additionality is gone, which means that if universities continue to fund them in those ways, they will have to find those funds themselves or pass them on to the students. That makes it a very expensive option—

  Q72 Chair: Sorry, they will find it by having a fee that is appropriate. Is that right?

  Fiona Blacke: Yes.

  Q73 Tessa Munt: Sorry, they were funded—can you say that again?

  Fiona Blacke: The standards for those programmes are set by the profession. If universities want to continue to deliver those programmes, they will have to find the additional funding, either from within their own resources, or indeed, by handing that on to the student, I believe. That will make that incredibly difficult, particularly when historically, those coming into the youth profession were from a non-traditional entrant background. Now, we are only looking at those courses that are known as the science, technology and engineering courses getting that higher level of funding under the new HE funding formula.

  Q74 Chair: I don't want to rehearse the whole tuition fee debate, but with the threshold raised to £21,000, the monthly payment lower than it was before, and those in low-paid work having the entirety of any remaining debt written off after 30 years, surely the message you should be sending out to young people is that they will be paying less per month than they were before. They will have anything extra written off, it can be put in the fee, and they can afford—

   Fiona Blacke: Can I separate out—

  Q75 Chair: If you are sending out the message to young people that the fee will be what puts them off, that is a misrepresentation and it risks people—

  Fiona Blacke: Graham, I don't think I'm saying that. What I'm saying is that universities will choose not to run those programmes because they are expensive to run. So, if you have a choice between running a general social science qualification and a youth work degree, you'll choose the general social science, because it will cost you less. Therefore, we will not have professionally trained youth workers.  

  Damian Hinds: Degrees and professional training are not necessarily the same thing, just en passant. You can have professional training without a degree course, to be clear.

  Chair: So, the risk is that fewer courses would be available and therefore, fewer places available for people who are prepared to do it, rather than perhaps the point that was made—although there could be this perception, especially if everyone keeps telling people that they won't be able to afford to go—that people would be put off going in the first place.

  Q76 Tessa Munt: Have any of you anything to say?

  Susanne Rauprich: Just one comment, which is that the youth sector work force is incredibly diverse. The majority of services to young people are run, delivered and developed by volunteers, but they are then supported by a range of other people. What, I suppose, collectively we would say is that you have to have a work force in place, which really provides opportunities for all sorts of people, and therefore they need to be trained in different ways, depending on the function and the role that they do.

Fiona Blacke: Absolutely.

  Susanne Rauprich: So, you have volunteers, and there are some very good support and development programmes available for volunteers. You have part-time and full-time youth workers. You have managers, specialists, generalists, arts coaches, sports coaches, and all sorts of things. Some of those can go through apprenticeships, some through in-house training, and some need to go on a university degree course. What you must have is that sort of range in order to have a work force that can meet the diverse needs of young people.

  Q77 Tessa Munt: Which is a good example to young people who are accessing the services anyway.

  Witnesses: Absolutely.

  Q78 Tessa Munt: Charlotte, did you want to add something?

  Charlotte Hill: I reinforce completely what Susanne has just said about there having to be an entry point for everybody, because that is exactly it. The people who often become the best youth workers are the people who have been volunteers themselves. People who can engage young people the best are those who understand their needs the best. I guess it is just that there has to be that basic foundation level entry for everybody, and there will be different routes in, in exactly the same way as Susanne said.

  Tessa Munt: I want to ask another quick question, if I may, but it is not related to training. Is your question related to this?

  Q79 Charlotte Leslie: Yes. I may be completely wrong, but from my experience, there have been people working out of, say, sports clubs, who are just volunteers. They are, in practice, some of the best youth workers that I have ever seen. They have not gone anywhere near a degree in youth work, but they are brilliant. Are we being too narrow in our definition of youth workers and are we closing the gate when we do not have to?

  Susanne Rauprich: Those sports coaches usually have a specific designated role.

  Q80 Charlotte Leslie: No, they don't, because I have a long history in amateur sports clubs and I know young people who have been through a club and just start helping the coach. They do not have any professional qualification whatsoever, except for a CRB check, and they are absolutely brilliant. I would not need any more proof than what they are doing that they were up to performing those tasks with young people. Are we being too narrow?

  Susanne Rauprich: I'm sure you are absolutely right, but they probably got to that stage with the support of somebody who had been around longer or who might have had a professional background to get them to the point of being absolutely brilliant in their interactions with other young people.

  Fiona Blacke: I argue that you could have five games of football led by sports coaches and four of them would be brilliant games, in which young people learn a lot about their sport, have a great time, and enjoy the interaction with the adult. One of those games would be youth work with a professionally trained youth worker, and it would involve a deliberate educational approach—the football is just a vehicle for the learning. That is the difference.

  To give a quick example, I recently spoke to a doctor who works for PricewaterhouseCoopers. Through Common Purpose, he had been sent out on a placement to a detached youth work project in Leeds. He went out three times with that project and the first couple of times he didn't get it; all he could see was someone standing on a street corner talking to people—he couldn't understand the process. The third time, he saw the educational process happening and the dynamic. It is hard to understand youth work—sometimes we look at things and say, "That's a game of table tennis." Four times out of five it might be, but one of them might be youth work.

  Charlotte Leslie: I wonder whether there is a misunderstanding in your estimation of what's going on in amateur sports clubs. I completely see what you are saying about education and the wider purpose, but perhaps it would be worth looking a bit more closely at the education that also takes place in purely amateur sports clubs.

  Q81 Chair: Susanne may come back on that. Should we make any recommendations in the light of the possibility that there will be a reduced number of youth work degree places? Is the current requirement right in terms of a professional qualification, such as a degree? Are there any recommendations that could maintain the professionalism and yet ensure the access and numbers of people coming through?

  Susanne Rauprich: May I just assure you that we recognise the value of what goes on in amateur sports clubs. For example, we are currently working to deliver 25,000 accredited training opportunities, mainly to volunteers, a large number of whom are from those sports scenarios. So we absolutely recognise and value the contribution that individuals are making. Don't go away thinking that we do not see that as being part of the system.

  Charlotte Leslie: That's great.

  Susanne Rauprich: Fiona will have something to say about higher education. In terms of recommendations, however, we think that there is a big gap in entry-level qualification in youth work with lower guided learning hours. There is a gap in creating a pathway that is universally recognised, right from the volunteer entry-level to HE. I suppose that the HE recommendation would be that the funding formula should not be changed.

  Fiona Blacke: That would be the recommendation we would ask for. I entirely endorse what Susanne has said. Successive Ofsted inspections have shown that best practice is where there are services strategically and professionally managed by professionally trained staff. We need the mix of them and we need an infrastructure that enables people to get the appropriate level of training, wherever they happen to come in.

  Q82 Tessa Munt: I would like to have a sense of what you think the input is of faith-based organisations into youth work. We were talking a little earlier about the Friday and Saturday night-out provision. My experience in a rural area is that that is almost only ever provided by the Christian church or others.

  Susanne Rauprich: It is enormous and diverse. The main Christian denominations all do youth work in their parishes, and we know that that is going on in other denominations. Our main concern is that a lot of churches have cut or are reducing the national support structures, and the churches themselves are not investing as much as they really should into supporting the work that goes on in parishes on the ground. We also have an issue with some of the Jewish and Muslim work not necessarily being recognised at national level as something that reaches disadvantaged communities in a very effective way. For example, the outcome of the latest round of the Department for Education's grant—I do not think I have seen a single faith-based organisation that made it through to stage 2. That has been the trend over a number of years so there is a bit of concern there. But absolutely, quite often faith-based organisations, because they have a very strong value base, are the most effective ways—particularly for those lacking a sense of community—to engage in some of the most challenging situations that they find themselves in, and there is an awful lot of good work that goes on.

  Chair: Any final comments on the subject of faith groups? No? Thank you all very much indeed.

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