Kruger Report – our response
In September of this year, the government published the, so-called Kruger Report, officially titled “Levelling Up Our Communities: Proposals for a new social covenant.”
The report, commissioned by the Prime Minister, seeks ways to level up the inequalities in our most deprived that have been so well magnified by the COVID pandemic by building on the amazing community spirit that has been so forthcoming across the whole country.
The full report can be found here and makes a variety of proposals around the themes of Power, People and Place with the aim of putting civil society at the heart of government policy.
Take-aways for youth services
There are a number of things that relate specifically to youth services, including:
- An acknowledgement that young people and youth services have suffered disproportionately since the financial crisis in 2008 with a 70% cut in funding.
- A national volunteer passport is proposed, that helps to match volunteers, their skills and their suitability with appropriate organisations.
- Opportunity Guarantee for young people. A structured programme for young people to serve their local areas in meaningful roles that also help to build their skills and sense of public duty.
- Service Kickstart, which seeks to build on the recently launched Kickstart scheme with a proposal to deploy up to 100,000 young people to a range of social and environmental projects, paid on a full or part time basis.
- A new youth service infrastructure facilitated by local government, civil society and business.
- Various current initiatives could be adapted to support the proposals listed above such as NCS, iWill, Step up to Serve and that funding could be found in the budgets of these initiatives.
There are some wider points made within the report that may also impact the work of youth service providers
- It was proposed that a “social covenant” be developed that places social value at the heart of public policy.
- It is stated that there needs to be a reform of procurement and commissioning to ensure that social enterprises and community groups could play a greater role.
- There was an acknowledgement that there had been a weakening of the connecting tissue of communities such as institutions and gathering places
- The report encouraged the notion of taking a strengths-based approach that builds on the assets of local communities and empowers local communities.
NABGC welcome much of what the Kruger report says. It is great to finally see something that reflects honestly on and acknowledges the failings of successive governments – their own included in recent years.
As welcome as many of these findings are, NABGC would suggest that much of what is proposed is already happening – particularly in the youth sector – one just needs to do a bit of work and search a little in order to find it.
Despite decades of under-investment, a distinct lack of support and a lack of recognition, NABGC and it’s membership has continued to work with more than 3,000 local, grass-roots youth clubs and projects that provide essential youth services to over 300,000 young people, thanks to the voluntary efforts of approximately 15,000 volunteers of all ages and backgrounds – it is inspiring and humbling in equal measure.
This is the so-called Big Society in action, and it has been happening for well over 100-years in many of our most deprived communities across the UK.
This army of volunteers already
- Provide and maintain safe gathering places for our most vulnerable young people to meet and engage in positive activities
- Provide a positive and purposeful pathway for young people to grow, achieve, mature, serve and become positive members of their community
- Provide opportunities for many members of their local community to get involved in volunteering
- Train, educate and develop an ongoing cohort of staff and volunteers that support the young people in their local area
- Have their own social covenant in place and, as you speak with these amazing people, they are all committed to making their local community a better place to live and are empowering local people to get involved in that process
- Recognise the strengths of their local community and are building on them
Supported by NABGC’s members, the people in the communities we work in provide a strong and impactful youth service and have done so for decades and this, by and large, without the support of local or national government. They have looked on aghast at the vast sums of money ploughed into a variety of youth initiatives – Connexions, NCS, iWill, Positive Activities for Young People and many more – whilst they have struggled, on a voluntary basis, to find help to pay for the heating and electricity needed to open the door of their youth centre.
Danny Kruger MP acknowledges that the social and financial model is broken and has failed. It was encouraging to see this being acknowledged in his report. However, as the report went on, it seems that he is proposing to give responsibility for the implementation of his proposals to local government, civil society and business – which it seems is the exact copy of what has already failed. This will lead, once again, to local authorities controlling and delivering a service to it’s residents, rather than empowering people in local communities. Youth services will then become ineffective and unsustainable. NABGC would encourage the government to seek out those organisations that have a track record of supporting grass-roots communities in the delivery successful youth work programmes that are both impactful, sustainable and build on the strengths of local communities. This would cost a fraction of a statutory service, be sustainable and would suit the needs of local communities.
NABGC would like to extend the invitation to Danny Kruger MP and the Prime Minister to visit some of the wonderful, local, grass-roots organisations that we are talking about in the response above to see what that what he is talking about in his report, is already taking place across the country seven days a week. It just needs some more genuine investment and support to thrive a flourish.
The National Association of Boys & Girls Clubs are the UK youth club charity.
We help young people to thrive by working with our members to deliver positive educational and recreational programmes of activity to around 300,000 young people predominantly in the most deprived communities.
We help local youth clubs and projects to thrive through the provision of programmes of training, support, advice and networking to around 15,000 staff and volunteers.
We currently have 20 county member organisation as well 3 nation member organisations who between support around 3,000 local youth clubs and projects.