2.2 Young people and social exclusion
The creation of the SEU was particularly significant in the development of partnership working in relation to work with young people – so much so that it was described by some commentators as the ‘de facto Ministry of Youth’ (Williamson, 2007, p. 36). It was set up soon after the Labour Government was elected in 1997 as a cross-government department aiming to help improve government action to reduce social exclusion by producing ‘joined up solutions to joined up problems’ (SEU, 2000). It created a series of policy action teams made up of government and non-government agencies.
The report of Policy Action Team 12 (SEU, 2000) considered ways in which government could improve policies and services to meet young people’s needs. It found a situation of fragmented policy and service delivery.
It also found that individual agencies tended to focus on their own individual objectives, with difficult issues that straddled boundaries not being adequately dealt with, or ignored. The picture was particularly gloomy for young people with the most significant problems and the most complex needs:
Young people get shunted from agency to agency because responsibilities are unclear. … As a result, young people can fall through the cracks in agency responsibilities, and services can appear contradictory, complex and inaccessible. … Young people with multiple risk factors often go without help.
It went on to recommend that there should be a cross-departmental approach to young people’s issues and youth inclusion, and that structures should be created to support cross-departmental and inter-agency working.