Evaluation of the Youth Opportunity Fund and the Youth Capital Fund
Published in July, 2005, the Green Paper ‘Youth Matters’ (DfES, 2005) set out the Government's commitment to empowering young people to become more involved in local strategic decision-making, including the allocation of funds to support local youth services. Underpinning the decision to engage young people actively in shaping and widening youth strategies within local communities is the belief that placing trust in young people and giving them responsibility will help tackle social exclusion and social disadvantage. Responses to the consultation which followed the publication of 'Youth Matters' and the Government's commitment and action plan were outlined in 'Youth Matters: Next Steps' (DfES, 2006b), which was published in March 2006. Launching the report, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, said ‘it is time for a youth strategy that is shaped by young people - based on listening to and trusting young people to develop services they want and need to fulfil their potential’ (DfES, 2006a).
From April 2006, ring-fenced funding of £115 million is being made available for two years for local authorities through the Youth Opportunity Fund and the Youth Capital Fund. Young people will be able to bid for this funding to improve facilities and activities in their neighbourhood. Locally, a panel of young people will decide how the money will be spent.
Purpose and aims
The main objectives of the research were to:
- understand the operational context in which the Funds were being used in order to identify commonalities and differences across the range of planned approaches
- identify effective models of delivery for the Funds and to explore value/cost effectiveness
- ascertain whether involving young people in decision-making about positive activities stimulated participation.
Design and methods
The project was undertaken by the NFER with input from two consultants/advisers from the University of Warwick. The main methods comprised:
- desk research and consultation to underpin the development of research instruments (ongoing from September 2006)
- telephone survey of all 150 local authorities (LAs) exploring delivery of the Funds (October-November 2006 and January 2008)
- case-study visits to 12 LAs to gather more in-depth information regarding the management and delivery of the Funds (December 2006-January 2007 and September-November 2007)
- survey of young people and the wider community in 12 case-study areas, which was developed in consultation with young people and administered by them (July-December 2007)
- on-line survey of 150 LAs (January-February 2008).
Time scale: September 2006 - April 2008
NFER Project Code: YOC
Department for Education and Skills (2005). Youth Matters (Cm. 6299). London: The Stationery Office.
Department for Education and Skills (2006a). £115m Funds will Go Direct to Young People for the First Time - Hughes (DfES Press Notice 2006/0025) [online]. Available:http://www.dfes.gov.uk/pns/DisplayPN.cgi?pn_id=2006_0025 [21 November, 2006].
Department for Education and Skills (2006b). Youth Matters: Next Steps. Something to Do, Somewhere to Go, Someone to Talk To [online]. Available: Available:http://www.dfes.gov.uk/publications/youth/pdf/Next%20Steps.pdf [21 November, 2006].