Dormant Assets Bill [HL]

Written evidence submitted by Youth Futures Foundation (DAB01)

 

SUBMISSION TO THE PUBLIC BILL COMMITTEE : DORMANT ASSETS BILL

 

Youth Futures Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organisation established in December 2019 (with an initial endowment of £90 million from the Reclaim Fund) to improve employment outcomes for young people from marginalised backgrounds. We are submitting evidence to the committee on the need for continued investment in youth employment through Dormant Assets funding, backed with details on our impact so far.

S UMMARY

· One in eight young people are not in full-time education or employment. Many of those locked out of the labour market have complex needs and may be grappling with health challenges, disability, or caring responsibilities. Although vacancies have bounced back as Covid restrictions have eased, long-term youth unemployment is likely to remain at historically high levels into 2022.

· The recent report of the House of Lords Unemployment Committee , Skills for Every Young Person , urges action now to address youth unemployment. It highlights the gaps that exist in support for marginalised young people and the additional barriers they face in accessing good quality jobs.

· Through matching the pre-COVID NEET rates of 20 to 24-year-olds in Germany, the UK could increase its GDP by around £40 billion . [1] Furthermore, the estimated cost to public finance of young people being NEET between the ages of 16 and 1 8 is nearly £12 billion , largely made up of benefit payments and tax losses as people are unemployed . [2] The biggest financial and social returns will be gained through improving outcomes for young people facing multiple barriers to their success.

· Youth Futures has have achieved a lot in two years. This includes committing £27.7 million in funding for projects that are supporting 17,982 young people and the evaluation of those interventions.

· Yet, to address this entrenched issue, and for Youth Futures to become the go-to organisation for effective practice as the What Works Centre for Youth Employment, a long-term financial commitment is required. We have a proven track record of delivery, and a well-established oversight mechanism that ensures value for money, getting vital support and investment to the young people and communities that need it most. We ask that the Bill is not amended in any way that could prevent this.

· We support the current Dormant Assets Bill as drafted, and the expansion of the Dormant Assets scheme. However , we are concerned that a recent amendment would see the Community Wealth Fund as the only potential named beneficiary of Dormant Assets funding in the primary legislation.

1. Why do we need to need to continue to invest in youth employment?

1.1 Youth unemployment is a long-term entrenched social problem that has blighted our society for decades. One in eight of all young people are not currently in full-time education or employment and risk being left behind as the economy recovers. Many of those locked out of the labour market have complex needs and may be grappling with health challenges, disability, or caring responsibilities. The pandemic has also highlighted and deepened existing disparities. The recent report from the House of Lords Youth Unemployment Committee highlighted the significant barriers to work experienced by minority ethnic groups, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. ONS data shows that the fall in employment was four times higher for young Black people and nearly three times higher for young Asian people during the pandemic.

1.2 Although vacancies have bounced back as restrictions have eased, long-term youth unemployment is likely to remain at historically high levels into 2022. Long-term youth unemployment rose by over a half during the crisis to 256,000, reaching its highest level in five years. The scarring effects for individuals of being out of work for more than six months are significant, as are the associated costs for society due to increased benefit costs, reduced lifetime earnings (and therefore tax revenue) and negative health consequences. The estimated cost to public finance of young people being NEET between the ages of 16 and 18 is nearly £12 billion. [3]

1.3 Youth employment levels have a significant impact on UK economic growth now and in the future. Ensuring young people can get into work, and stay in work, will be vital to our national recovery and growth prospects. Through matching the pre-COVID NEET rates of 20 to 24-year-olds in Germany, the UK could increase its GDP by around £40 billion. [4] The biggest financial and social returns will be gained through improving outcomes for young people facing multiple barriers to their success.

1.4 Recent research by the Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel De Souza DBE, which surveyed over half a million young people, found that  securing a good quality job is the top future priority for those aged 9-17 y ea rs.  Children and young people who face disadvantage or discrimination are even more focused on securing a good job or career.   

2. Our impact so far and the need for long-term investment

2.1 Youth Futures Foundation has achieved a lot in the last two years:

2.1.1 We have distributed £18.7 million to 143 civil society organisations to engage 17,982 young people across England who face disadvantage and discrimination.

2.1.2 66% of young people have already started to make progress – including 37% who have made significant progress – on pathways towards education, training and employment outcomes. [5]

2.1.3 We launched our Youth Employment Evidence and Gap Map, the world’s largest mapping resource that shows the global evidence base on what works to improve youth skills, employment and job quality. Also, in 2021 we committed £3 million to evaluate 23 youth employment interventions, representing the largest ever range of youth employment evaluations in England.

2.1.4 We have mobilised the youth employment sector across the UK, in co-founding the Youth Employment Group (YEG), bringing together over 300  youth employment experts to advocate for full and inclusive employment for young people in response to the pandemic.

2.1.5 We target investment to the places where it is most needed. In November 2021, we launched Connected Futures , a £6.1 million fund that is designed to join up services for young people at a local level. We have also made multi-million pound commitments to two place-based initiatives in the North of England that are soon to be announced.

2.1.6 We support young people across England , with our grantee programmes benefiting the following numbers of young people across the regions: 2,519 in central England, 4,307 in the North, 7,256 in the South-East (including London) and 2,275 in the South-West. 1,350 young people are supported through programmes delivered England-wide.

2.1.7 Through our infrastructure grants programme, we are supporting 11 infrastructure organisations to equip an anticipated 7,506 organisations in their networks with the knowledge, skills, and connections to provide world-class employment support and training for young people .

2.1.8 We published 14 research, evaluation and policy papers, and carried out policy work to inform the creation of Kickstart, youth hubs and wider DWP initiatives to support young people into work .

2.1.9 We launched our interactive Youth Employment System Map in 2021 . It is the first attempt to map the youth employment system in England , directly from young people’s experiences, and represents the barriers and opportunities young people from marginalised backgrounds face as they seek good jobs.

2.2 We have a proven track record of delivery and a well-established oversight mechanism that ensures value for money, getting vital support and investment to the young people and communities that need it most. We ask that the Bill is not amended in any way that could prevent this.

2.3 Addressing the entrenched issue of youth unemployment and building a What Works Centre for Youth Employment requires a long-term approach and commitment. Our long-term vision is to improve employment outcomes for young people from marginalised backgrounds by improving the efficiency and quality of youth employment service provision. As a What Works Centre for Youth Employment, we are committed to exploring what works and why to transform the evidence base, drive evidence-based policymaking and inform practice of employers and practitioners. We have achieved a lot in two years but we are still near the start of our journey as an organisation and as a What Works Centre.

3. The causes and funding mechanisms

3.1 We are supportive of the government’s desire to expand the scheme and decide the causes for future funding based on the outcome of a public consultation. We welcome further debate around additional causes, such as a Community Wealth Fund, but feel that further scoping is necessary to understand how such a fund would work alongside the existing mechanisms we have to get money to communities for youth employment, financial inclusion, and social investment projects. For example, at Youth Futures Foundation we have ambitious plans to scale up our work with communities over the next five years and have recently launched our £6.1 million Connected Futures F und to join up services for young people at a local level . We will also soon be announcing multi-million pound commitments to two place-based initiatives in the North of England.

3.2 We believe that decisions on funding should be kept as broad as possible for the purposes of the bill. However, we are aware of a recent amendment that would see the Community Wealth Fund as the only potential named beneficiary of Dormant Assets funding in the primary legislation. If there are changes to the Bill that provide certain organisations or projects with a special status, then we ask for youth employment to also be recognised within the primary legislation.

3.3 We would like to see evidence of what works sitting at the heart of discussions around causes and mechanisms for deployment of future Dormant Assets funds. If scarce resources are to be deployed efficiently for maximum impact, then we should be looking to fund long-term entrenched social problems through mechanisms where shared learnings can be created and applied to other places to improve outcomes on a national scale. 

December 2021


[1] PwC (2018), Youth Employment Index 2018. Available at: https://www.pwc.co.uk/services/economics/insights/youth-employment-index.html  

[2] University of York (2010), E stimating the life-time cost of NEET: 16-18 year olds not in Education, Employment or Training . Research Undertaken for the Audit Commission . Available at: https://www.york.ac.uk/inst/spru/research/pdf/NEET.pdf

[3] University of York (2010), E stimating the life-time cost of NEET: 16-18 year olds not in Education, Employment or Training . Research Undertaken for the Audit Commission . Available at: https://www.york.ac.uk/inst/spru/research/pdf/NEET.pdf

[4] PwC (2018), Youth Employment Index 2018. Available at: https://www.pwc.co.uk/services/economics/insights/youth-employment-index.html  

[5] Data was collected from 46 organisations relating to 8,540 young people as part of our Inspiring Futures Fund.

 

Prepared 11th January 2022