At the request of the Prime Minister, Danny Kruger (MP for Devizes) has published a review of the role the voluntary sector can play to support the UK’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Headlines from the report include recommendations for the creation of a £500m Community Recovery Fund, and that charities be given powers to deliver more public services. The report also advocates decentralising decisions from Government and emphasis placed on local solutions. The report, Levelling up our communities: proposals for a new social covenant, can be read here and includes recommendations that affect the youth sector.
In the introduction, Danny Kruger recognises that “Youth services suffered the deepest cut of all with a 70% reduction in funding between 2010 and 2020”.
The main proposals for young people are:
The Opportunity Guarantee
Danny Kruger proposes giving young people a leading role in the national economic recovery. He highlights his support for the Kickstart Scheme predominantly targeting the private sector but suggests, “the Kickstart Scheme lacks a wider national mission or sense of public purpose.” Kruger writes, “As part of the Opportunity Guarantee promised by the Prime Minister, the UK needs a structured programme for young people to serve their local areas in meaningful roles that build their skills and their sense of public duty.” He suggests that it would need to be a national scheme, designed in collaboration with young people and the youth sector.
Danny Kruger proposes a programme within the Kickstart scheme called Kickstart Service, which is presented as a “proposal for ‘open policy-making’ in due course,” and could be:
• Designed to deploy up to 100,000 young people on a range of social and environmental projects. Young people would be paid via Kickstart to do this work.
• Projects would be organised by civil society working with local authorities and businesses, with expectation that the roles be “substantial, demanding and well-managed”
• “A new infrastructure of youth provision would emerge, facilitated by local government, civil society and business.”
• Existing Government-backed initiatives could be adapted for this purpose “such as #iwill, Step Up To Serve, and most of all the National Citizen Service (NCS)”
• Additional funding for management and training could be found from a “range of current budgets […] including NCS, the National Tutoring Programme for schoolchildren […] the Youth Investment Fund, and the Apprenticeships Levy.”
The Volunteer Passport:
Danny Kruger envisions a new infrastructure of projects for young people that would be managed voluntarily by adults. The system would be based around a ‘Volunteer Passport’ “that can be used across different organisations, in the public and social sectors, with a single identity and criminal records check.”
Regarding youth provision, he recognises that young people and families in crisis need to be supported by professionals, but there is a role for volunteers providing “providing regular, light-touch, ‘relational’ support within a framework of good supervision and accountability.” The eventual programme would be designed and managed in close collaboration with young people.
For young people taking part in the Volunteer Passport scheme, Danny Kruger says benefits could include-
• Skills delivered through an online training curriculum
• Mentoring (Suggestion that One Million Mentors could be integrated into the system)
• Retail partners to give discounts, plus further opportunities, advice and guidance
• Record of a young person’s work in service to society
UK Youth response to the review
Ndidi Okezie, CEO of UK Youth, said: “This is a detailed report with a lot to digest. We’re pleased that there’s acknowledgement of the important role young people play in society and the stark challenges they face, as well as the importance of co-development with young people vs solutions being “done to” them. We look forward to continuing to connect Government with the expertise across the youth sector and working to progress key ideas as reports and recommendations continue to come through. The undeniable truth is that financial investment in supporting young people is #NeverMoreNeeded than now. We cannot continue to just dutifully wait for commitments to be delivered on! Young people need critical support now. We have to act.“
Prime Minister response to the review
The Prime Minister welcomed the report and announced the launch of a new framework for public commissioning by Government and said he had asked the Minister for Civil Society (Baroness Barran) and the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Oliver Dowden) to further consult with people and organisations, consider the recommendations and report back to Danny Kruger on any developments.