This is a very interesting piece of news where the outcome will affect the youth work landscape in the UK for a long time: Select committee chairman blasts youth sector for lack of evidence.
The chairman of the education select committee inquiry into young people’s services has accused the youth sector of failing to make a strong case for government funding. Speaking during the opening session of the inquiry today, Graham Stuart MP said: “It does seem an extraordinary failure that you [the youth sector] canâ€™t make a better fist at explaining the difference you make.”
A select committee is a committee made up of a small number of parliamentary members appointed to deal with particular areas or issues. The education select committee is currently holding an inquiry into the role of universal services such as youth clubs and cultural activities for young people, and targeted youth services for vulnerable groups. They had been hearing oral evidence from larger youth organisations including the British Youth Council, the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services, the National Youth Agency (NYA) and UK Youth about the need for services for young people. But from the headlines, it seems they have not been able to back up their claims with any evidence. Even more frustratingly, the heads of these organisations seem to be making excuses:
Charlotte Hill, chief executive of UK Youth, defended the lack of evidence available. “Lots of organisations havenâ€™t been able to invest in researching their outcomes,” she said.
Susanne Rauprich, chief executive of NCVYS… had investigated setting up a system to measure the impact of its membership organisations, but was told it would cost around Â£2m. “We simply donâ€™t have Â£2m to spend,” she said.
Fiona Blacke, chief executive of the NYA, added that the agency stopped producing its Local Authority Youth Service Annual Audit in 2008… after the previous government pulled funding for the programme.
There is a great deal of anger on the CYP Now forum that these big youth organisations who supposedly represent all of our work, have failed to make a strong case for what we do. As mas says:
Are those the organisations the youth work sector would have chosen to represent them? Who made the decision they should represent and on what basis? I’m intrigued that the excuses given relate to cost. Is it really the case that in these circumstances they couldn’t find a way to support all those they represent to put together the huge amount of evidence they must have collected for their various work?
Then later he writes:
how bloody ironic that despite it all “The chairman of the education select committee inquiry into young people’s services has accused the youth sector of failing to make a strong case for government funding.”
Surely youth workers and organisations across the country are now screaming ‘what about this huge pile of evidence I’ve been gathering for all this time?’ – aren’t they?
What do you make of this development? Can you prove that what you do with young people is effective? Is it even important to do so? Discuss.