Cuts Watch #165: Young Volunteers
The Department for Education is to scrap Youth Community Action, which supports teenagers involved in volunteering.
The programme’s ambition was that, by the time they were 19, every young person should have spent 50 hours volunteering. Among the cuts, VSchools, run by the youth volunteering charity V (which encourages school pupils to volunteer) is cancelled. Children and Young People Now reports that the part of YCA for 16- to 18-year-olds will finish next April but the under-16 element is close straight away.
V is also hit by £11 million of cuts announced by the Office for Civil Society, the Cabinet Office unit that supports community groups and charities and promotes volunteering. The plans include £5 million from a fund that matches money V raises from the private sector and £1.95 million from V’s main grant.
The Office for Civil Society cuts also include a £1.3 million reduction in funding for Capacitybuilders, which helps charities and voluntary groups to get advice and support.
There is an emerging pattern of decisions that are especially harmful for young people. We have reported on cuts in local children’s and youth services and that the burden of benefit cuts is falling disproportionately on families with children and teenagers.
Even though the Coalition’s cuts are far-reaching, going far beyond the ‘efficiency savings’ promised during the election, many people will be surprised by the latest moves: if the ‘Big Society’ means anything, it means support for charities and volunteers.
The Independent reports Terry Ryall, the Chief Executive of V, as saying that these cuts are “a big blow for the Big Society” and accuses the Cabinet Office of “slipping out” the news of the Office for Civil Society cuts. It’s hard not to agree, the news is at the foot of a press release announcing fairly run-of-the-mill letter to charities and voluntary organisations asking for suggestions for increased efficiency and headed “voluntary sector asked for their ideas on how to do more for less.”