Thursday, 2 May 2013

Questions (217, 218)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

217. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason she, at a recent Irish Presidency conference where the theme was quality youth work and social inclusion, gave a commitment to youth work at the European level, while at the same time she cut funding to quality youth work projects at the national level; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20978/13]

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Sandra McLellan

Question:

218. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in view of fact that at the recent Irish Presidency conference on quality youth work and social inclusion a set of conclusions was agreed with the expressed aim of influencing EU policy, if she will now support the Irish youth sector to make these conclusions a reality for marginalised young people; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20979/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 217 and 218 together.

The Youth Affairs Unit of my Department provides a range of funding schemes, programmes and supports to the youth sector. Funding of some €53.498m is available in 2013 to support the provision of youth services and programmes to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. Targeted supports for disadvantaged, marginalised and at risk young people are provided through the Special Projects for Youth Scheme, the Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund Rounds 1 and 2 and Local Drugs Task Force Projects. These funding schemes support national and local youth work provision to some 400,000 young people and involve approximately 1,400 paid staff and 40,000 volunteers working in youth work services and communities throughout the country. This funding allocation includes an amount of €1 million for fit-out, refurbishment works or building enhancement projects for the start-up of new Youth Cafés. It also includes €1.35m for a Local Youth Club Grant Scheme which supports youth work and youth activities in local communities. The funding for the local youth clubs grants has not been cut in 2012 or 2013. These grants are made available to all local youth clubs and groups through local Vocational Education Committees.

The savings required under the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure in respect of 2013 amounted to €5.393m on the funding that was available for the provision of youth services in 2012. Having regard to the savings requirements identified in the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure, my Department has tried to ensure that, in the determination process for the allocations, the front line youth services, particularly those for the most vulnerable young people are protected as far as is possible from the impact of these necessary reductions in funding.

A comprehensive Value for Money and Policy Review of youth funding has been commenced in my Department and this report is expected later this year. It is anticipated that this report will inform the provision of funding for youth programmes/services going into the future.

In addition, my Department is developing a new youth policy framework for publication later this year. The new youth policy framework will aim to enhance the provision of youth services and activities and it will, inter alia, promote coordination between government departments and youth sector organisations with a view to maximising the effectiveness of the State funding available to support services for young people in future years.

The EU Youth Conference held in March in Dublin was the highlight of Ireland's EU Youth Presidency and almost 180 young people and policy makers from all 27 Member States jointly discussed social inclusion challenges that impact on young people's lives such as employment and social supports as well as the role of quality youth work.

The Conference, which was organised by my Department in partnership with the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) also provided a major opportunity to showcase the talent and innovation of Ireland's young people and youth sector and almost 100 young people from youth organisations and clubs around the country were involved in supporting the Conference.

I propose that the conclusions from the Conference will be progressed at national level, through the development of the Youth Policy Framework. At EU level, they will inform the policy document on the importance of quality youth work to young people's development which I will bring to the Council of Youth Ministers meeting on 16 May 2013. They will also be progressed under the Lithuanian and Greek Presidencies and will form the basis of a Council Resolution on Structured Dialogue with young people at the end of the Greek Presidency in 2014.