Some positive measures but inadequate funding for youth services in Budget 2024
Missed opportunity to support essential youth services and young people most in need
The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) has welcomed some of the measures to support young people with the cost-of-living crisis announced in Budget 2024, but says more supports are needed, especially for young workers, those out of work and youth work organisations.
Paul Gordon, NYCI Director for Policy and Advocacy said: “NYCI welcomes the extension of the young adult leap card to 25-year-olds, and the reduction in third-level and apprenticeship contribution charges, which we called for ahead of Budget 2024.
“However, while there have been positive one-off measures, the Budget fell short in terms of ambition for young people. NYCI called for a budget to renew the social contract with young people, but this hasn’t been delivered, and young people at the margins have been overlooked.”
Youth Work funding inadequate, lacks long-term vision
Mr Gordon explained: “There has been an increase in youth work funding, but it is not enough to support the sector to tackle the fallout from the cost-of-living crisis, rising demand and acute challenges facing our growing youth population.
“Government has provided new current funding for youth work of €5m, but has apparently cut capital funding altogether. This is a case of giving with one hand and taking away with the other.
“Not only is the funding provided inadequate to meet existing needs, it also demonstrates a lack of strategic commitment to youth services, especially in the context of the Government’s forthcoming Action Plan on Youth Services.
“The devil is in the detail in respect of the new €5m current funding provision announced by Minister O’Gorman. It appears as though only €1.5m of this will go towards existing services struggling with rising costs and demand. Moreover, these are organisations upon which the delivery of the new Action Plan on Youth Services will ultimately rest, and Budget 2024 will not equip them to deliver.
“It is, however, welcome that a boost for universal youth work services has been provided to the amount of €2.5m, and that steps are being taken to address underfunding of volunteer-led youth organisations.
“We await the final detail on how the full investment package in youth work breaks down and further information on the new schemes. While any investment is welcome, this budget risks being a missed opportunity to support essential youth services and those young people most in need,” concluded Mr Gordon.
Minimum wage and Jobseekers’ Allowance concerns
“While increases in the minimum wage and welfare payments are to be welcomed, no measures to address the stark inequalities in how they are applied to young people have been announced,” added Mr Gordon.
When new minimum wage rates are introduced, the NYCI estimates that an 18-year-old worker will earn €4,600 less per year compared to a 20-year-old doing the same job, while those under-25 receiving jobseekers’ allowance will do so at a rate 39% lower than friends and family aged 25 and up.
Other announcements impacting young people included:
€1,000 one-off reduction in contribution charges for free fee students.
A one-third reduction in contribution charges for apprenticeships.
€67 million investment in craft apprenticeship schemes.
Renter’s tax credit has seen a positive increase from €500 to €750.
The extension of the young adult travel card to 24 and 25 year olds is a welcome measure in combating the cost of living and reaching climate action plan targets.