Today I can announce… We’ve lost the plot

Yesterday I joined around 50 Leaders of youth organisations at the House of Commons for the launch of the Generation Change report: Service Nation 2020.

A medium-sized family home in west London costs around £1m, the same amount that Rob Wilson thinks will solve disenfranchisement among young people in the UK

A medium-sized family home in west London costing around £1m, probably one of 500,000 in the capital...

The report had five recommendations for the new government. Each should increase youth social action opportunities across the UK. This is a target the government is vocally committed to supporting.

The Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson, acknowledged the report (without indicating any interest in its recommendations) and went on to make his big announcement.

He told us that the government has just put aside £1 million to support youth social action initiatives across the UK.

He then told us that he recognised the million pounds couldn’t solve everything, so it would help with specific action in the East of England because that is where the least social action is happening with young people at the moment.

This is where my dismay began to set in. It doesn’t relate to the proposition, but the solution:

£1 million always sounds impressive. However, you couldn’t announce less.

And, put in perspective, it’s the cost of a medium-sized family home in West London. Yes, he’s put aside the cost of a medium-sized family home in West London to help solve the problem of disenfranchised young people in the UK.

It makes you wonder how we got to the point where that could sound sufficiently impressive to not be simply shameful coming from the lips of a minister of the world’s ninth richest nation?

How did we set our aspirations so low? Could we have side-lined the issue any further? I must check out whether slug pellets get a bigger subsidy.

Could he not have simply said: ‘and today I am pleased to announce that we will tokenise the issue of youth social engagement’?

Of course, it is not politically savvy for me to write this. But I can’t help wondering why, by contrast, it is politically savvy for a minister to get away with committing such a relatively trivial sum to empowering the next generation of citizens without a shocking outcry.

Instead we’ll stand around looking grateful for their choices around our money.

Yet to make such an announcement six months after he cut a much smaller amount of funding from our school program (Giving Nation) that has been engaging forty thousand young people a year in six hundred schools – and would have returned more than a million for charity in the process – is galling.

If that sounds bitter, I promise you I’m bigger than that: as a citizen I just can’t get my head around the differential between the needs of our young people facing an unprecedented future of social flux and the cost of a medium sized family home in West London. It makes the whole enterprise look pitifully trivial and our collective priorities meaningless.

We have overpriced the housing plot, privatised the political plot, and lost the social plot.

Views expressed on this blog are not necessarily those of the Citizenship Foundation.

3 thoughts on “Today I can announce… We’ve lost the plot

  1. Thanks Andy

    If that is the full extent of our Governments aspirations and commitment to our young people – we do have a very serious problem.

    Whilst the church and other caring people will continue to do their excellent work we must at the same time keep up the pressure on the Government and our own local MPs and councils to increase the energy and resources being made available for this significant section of our society.

    They must be helped to realise that our young people not only comprise of very large numbers of people requiring, help, love, encouragement, training & nurture but if they are not helped now – rather than being a resource for and the powerhouse of the nation, in future years they will become part of a much bigger problem.

  2. I am speechless but not surprised. I will be asking our 280 strong team of young journalists what they make of this, and doing my best to get their views heard.

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