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Update on Policy Issues for those in Youth Work in Ireland 
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Policy Brief

October 2016

Review of Youth Guarantee   
 

 

The European Commission recently adopted a Communication that highlights the main achievements of the Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) since their launch in 2013. It draws lessons on how to improve the EU and national efforts on deploying national Youth Guarantee schemes. This communication effectively begins the first pan European review of the EU Youth Guarantee which provides that all young people should have an offer of a job or quality education and training within four months of becoming unemployed.

There have been mixed views at national and European level on the Guarantee and the review process. The Commission is highlighting successes and positive stories from member states. The National Youth Council criticised the process and expressed disappointment at implementation to date. At EU level it was reported that there were large gaps in the system of data collection and funding will be reduced for the future.


EU Commission Review 
Youth Work Ireland Press Release


 

Advancing Children's Rights through the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill
 



On October 3rd The Children’s Rights Alliance held a briefing on the child impact of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015. The event was opened by Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD and the key note address was given by Professor Geoffrey Shannon, Founding Patron of the Children's Rights Alliance and Special Rapporteur on Child Protection. The event was chaired by Noeline Blackwell, Chief Executive Officer of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 is a landmark bill for the protection of children and young people in Ireland. As children and young people increasingly spend time online and with technology evolving quickly, this Bill gives legislators the opportunity to support families and protect all children in Ireland. Grooming and solicitation can be the first steps that lead to a childhood of abuse both online and offline. Our laws have not kept up with the pace of technological practices and developments and this Bill will close key loopholes to ensure that children are safe and are protected from abuse. The Bill also brings Ireland closer to meeting its international obligations for children.


 

Cherishing All the Children Equally 



On 12th October, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and Trinity College (TCD) released a book which draws on 10 years of ground-breaking research findings from the Growing Up in Ireland study to assess if, 100 years on from the Easter Rising, children in Ireland have equal chances of a bright future. Cherishing all the Children Equally? brings together multidisciplinary expertise to shed light on how child development is influenced by a variety of family, socio-emotional and demographic factors.

Following the official launch of the book by Dr. Katherine Zappone, T.D., Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, its editors presented on themes which are central to childhood (such as education, family and health) and discussed how the key findings can help policymakers and practitioners to navigate a social landscape which has changed so completely since 1916.

Information from the ESRI
Media Coverage

 

Recent Parliamentary Questions


The Youth Guarantee
Youth Unemployment Rate  
Capital Funding for Youth
Unaccompanied Minors
Job Bridge

Youth Work Ireland Political Briefing

Youth Work Ireland held its annual political briefing on October 5th. The date was postponed due to political circumstances in April. The briefing has become one of the main gathering points for politicians relating to youth work in Ireland and has established itself as an essential date in the political calendar. The event features three asks for newly elected TDs as they returned to business in Dublin. These were, to eliminate mental health waiting lists this year, provide an annual increase of 5% to the youth work sector consistent with the Value for Money Report and to implement the findings of the National Substance Misuse Steering Group.  

The Asks
More Images of the Day
 

Children's Minister at the Oireachtas



The new Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone TD has continued to brief the Oireachtas on her work. The Oireachtas now has a dedicated Committee on Children and Youth Affairs unlike the previous Committee which was still split with Health issues. The last briefing on October 5th was mainly focused on the estimates for mid-year. The Minister spent a lot of time on the proposed childcare strategy but also mentioned a desire to provide extra support for youth work and indeed stating; “I have put forward the case during the budgetary process to achieve a favourable increase in funding for youth organisations. While the youth sector may attract less commentary than other areas, it is a key focus for the coming year.”

The Debate 
 


 

Budget 2017  
 
 

The annual budget still provides a focus for submissions by groups working with children and young people to submit their views on priorities for the next year. A more positive budgetary situation may have given cause for optimism but commitments on other expenditure areas and taxation cuts also suggested the need to highlight the needs of children and young people. The National Youth Council focused on Investing in Youth Work Services, reducing Youth Unemployment and homelessness. Youth Work Ireland submitted on similar issues with a particular emphasis on the five priorities of the Better Outcomes Brighter Futures Policy Framework. While the Children’s Rights Alliance concentrated on childcare.

NYCI Budget Submission 

Youth Work Ireland Submission 

 

Sugar Tax 
 


 

A growing number of health experts have been advocating for a sugar tax in recent times similar to one introduced in the UK. The idea is to increase the price of food and drink with high sugar content to disincentive its consumption and thus combat the rise in childhood (and general) obesity. The idea is also often seen as a way to raise further revenue for children’s and youth services. The World Health Organization has said governments should raise taxes on sugary drinks to fight what it says are global obesity and diabetes epidemics. If retail prices of sugar-sweetened drinks are increased by 20 percent through taxation, there is a proportional drop in consumption, it said in a report titled "Fiscal Policies for Diet and Prevention of Non communicable Diseases".
 
The idea featured in a number of pre-budget submissions and received support from [Marcella Corcoran Kennedy and the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland. Michael Noonan agreed to examine the proposal particularly with reference to the UK in his budget speech and set up a public consultation forum aimed at introducing the tax in 2018.

WHO on the Sugar Tax
Youth Work Ireland post Budget Press Release 

Youth Affairs Funding
 

A substantial increase was agreed in youth affairs funding on the 2017 Budget. The Minister says the funding will allow for significant increases for existing youth services, the inclusion of communities identified as needing better youth services and the start of the first LGBT National Youth Strategy. The 2017 allocation represents an increase of €5.5m which will be used across a number of areas including;·a potential increase of up to 5% to all existing youth projects, all costs associated with the procurement, design and writing of the LGBT Youth Strategy, possibility of including organisations providing much needed services to young people and which haven’t been funded up to now, continued funding for 4 newly commenced Value for Money sample projects as well as the capacity to earmark funding for additional projects in 2017,·re-examination of current funding streams to ensure best outcomes for young people

DCYA Announcement 

 

Job Bridge   
 

Minister Leo Varadkar announced the discontinuation of the Job Bridge Scheme in May. To date there has been no firm proposals about a replacement. Job Bridge was controversial but it did provide a number of labour market paces for young people although a minority of the positions provided were taken up by young people. Many saw the ending of Job Bridge as an opportunity to provide a new labour market programme focussed on young people however there was no developments on this in Budget 2017. The Minister had promised a new “targeted” scheme to replace Job Bridge but there has only been media speculation on what this might look like.

Irish Independent on replacement scheme
 


 

Public Health Alcohol Bill  
   


After many years of debate and discussion some proposals for the greater regulation of the alcohol industry have made their way in to potential legislation in the form of the Public Health Alcohol Bill. This legislation is part of a range of measures planned under the Healthy Ireland framework, which will work together to improve our health and well being, both as individuals and as a nation. Its goal is to reduce our per capita alcohol consumption in Ireland from 10.9 litres to 9.1 litres for every person aged 15 and over by 2020 and to reduce alcohol harm.

However even though many changes have been called for by public health activists down the years only a few are contained in the Bill such as particularly minimum pricing. This proposal has been controversial and there are concerns about its compliance with EU law. It also now appears that there is considerable industry lobbying against even these minimalist provisions since the publication of the bill.

Opposition to the Bill 
Lobbying on the Bill 

Better Outcomes Brighter Futures Implementation Review
  


Better Outcomes Brighter Futures is the principal policy framework for the Government in the area of policy for children and young people. An implementation body regularly reviews its work and the most recent review was published recently. Its findings include; more of a focus being placed on the impact that Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures is having on children and young people’s lives, rather than on the processes behind this impact, constituent strategies of participation, youth and early years are crucially important for the successful implementation of Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, The use of data- and evidence-informed approaches is of fundamental importance, and any policies should have regard to the available evidence. Communicating data and evidence to all sectors should be progressed by all elements of the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures implementation infrastructure.

The Implementation Plan 
Implementation Update 

Childcare Package  
   


 

One of the significant initiatives in Budget 2017 was a major childcare package to be delivered by the DCYA. Additional funding of €173m is provided for. The main provisions are; an increase of 35% for Early Years / Childcare Funding to €466m, funding to maintain all area based approach (ABC) sites in 2017, increased allocations to fulfil operational roles and statutory duties of the Office of the Ombudsman for Children and the Adoption Authority of Ireland.

The package was notable for a focus on the most disadvantaged after much debate on allocations. Also of note to those in the youth field is that funding is also made available for work with young people up to 15 years of age. For those below the €47,500 income threshold, care for children aged from six months to 15 years will be covered There has been some controversy relating to the measures since the budget particularly related to relatives caring for children and those working in the home.

Description of the Scheme
Frequently Asked Questions 

 

Job Seekers Allowance for young people  
 

During the series of austerity budgets from 2008 Job Seekers Allowance payments were reduced considerably for those under 25. The end impact of this was that the majority of young unemployed people receive between €100 and €144 weekly if they qualify for a full means tested payment. Budget 2017 saw an increase in social welfare payments for unemployed people of €5 per week. However, increases for young people on Job Seeker Allowance were only €2.70 to €3.80. The National Youth Council described this as Mean-spirited and discriminatory

NYCI on the Changes 
Sinn Fein Statement 



 

 



 

 






 

  

 

 






 

 






 
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