Opposition Day Debate: Investing in Children and Young People

On Wednesday 9 June 2021, HM Opposition held the first of two Opposition Day Debates on investing in children and young people. 

HM Opposition tabled a motion calling on the Government to deliver to its manifesto pledge to provide £500 million to youth services by April 2021 and deliver this critical fund to prevent yet more youth centres being forced to close. This funding was pledged over a year ago, yet not a penny has been spent, and Covid-19 has only worsened the perilous state youth services were already in.

Youth services are a vital lifeline for young people, particularly those living in areas of deprivation. However, with funding cuts year on year, hundreds of youth centres have closed in every region, leaving young people isolated at this very difficult time. This funding is not only crucial for traditional youth services, but for community & volunteer-run organisations like Scouts, Guides and Cadets. 

The Government did not vote on this motion and it passed by Ayes: 224 – Noes: 0.

I intervened during the debate to highlight the inadequate funding available for schools in my constituency: 

Valerie Vaz: “May I put on record my thanks to the Minister for taking a personal interest in Joseph Leckie Academy? The building is looking absolutely fantastic, and I hope he comes to visit. However, I want to pick him up on funding, because some of my heads in Walsall South do not recognise the extra funding that the Government say they are giving. Many are operating on a deficit. Will he write to me and set out exactly which schools are operating on a deficit and which are operating on a surplus?”

Nick Gibb: Yes, I would be delighted to write to the right hon. Member. We know that schools are spending considerable sums during this period. As I have set out, we have all the different funding provisions that we have allocated to schools for catch-up and, indeed, through the exceptional costs fund during the period from March to July. There have been other schemes—when there have been excessive numbers of staff off, for example—in which we have provided funding for schools. Schools that are in serious trouble with their finances will always have recourse to their local authority or to the Department, if they are an academy, to tackle those particular challenges.