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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 July 2007, 22:12 GMT 23:12 UK
Youth services use unclaimed cash
Teenagers are being promised more constructive activities
Unclaimed money from abandoned bank accounts will fund government plans to provide positive activities for teenagers and reduce youth crime.

The scheme is part of a 10-year strategy for young people, unveiled by Children's Minister Beverley Hughes.

Improving facilities and community projects for young people would help them "defy the negative stereotypes", said the minister.

Among the plans are "coming of age" ceremonies for teenagers.

'Dormant accounts'

The funding - 184m of new money - will be supplemented with money taken from so-called "dormant" bank accounts, which have not been used for 15 years or more.

Banks and building societies hold an estimated 15bn in unclaimed accounts and assets - such as funds that have not been claimed after the death of an account holder.

British teenagers are more likely to get into fights, hang out with other teenagers, binge drink, take drugs and have underage and unprotected sex than teenagers in most other European countries
Julia Margo, IPPR

The youth strategy, presented to the House of Commons by Beverley Hughes, sets out ideas to offer activities and facilities for teenagers.

This includes more support for youth clubs, projects and voluntary groups; "coming of age ceremonies" as a rite of passage into adulthood; a Youth Week marking young people's achievements and a National Institute of Youth Leadership.

There is no set format planned for the publicly-funded "coming of age" ceremonies for 18 year olds, says a spokesperson for the Department for Schools, Children and Families.

But they would be local events designed by young people - and would not be expected to be like the glitzy American-style graduation ceremonies.

Tim Loughton, the Conservatives' children's spokesman, said that the government was "in denial" over the serious problems facing young people - such as crime, drugs, alcohol and mental health. "We have to face up to the reality and tackle it."

The government's youth strategy comes as the IPPR think tank warns that teenagers in Britain are much more likely to get into trouble than their European counterparts.

"Britain has a real problem with its teenagers," says senior research fellow Julia Margo.

Peer pressure

"British teenagers are more likely to get into fights, hang out with other teenagers, binge drink, take drugs and have underage and unprotected sex than teenagers in most other European countries," she says.

The IPPR report also highlights that young people in Britain are particularly likely to be influenced by their peer group - rather than adults, not least because they do not spend much time with adults.

"British teenagers spend more time 'hanging out' with their mates and less time with adults, while British adults are less likely to intervene to stop teenagers committing vandalism and other anti-social behaviour.

"Successive governments have left British youth to its own devices."

The IPPR says that all teenagers should be required to stay behind for an hour at school to take part in activities such as sport, exercise or drama.

The government has already announced plans for "extended schools", which will provide extra services and clubs for pupils before and after the school day.

Young people enjoying a youth centre

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11 Jul 07 |  Education
Dormant account plans fleshed out
20 Mar 07 |  Business
Q&A: Dormant accounts
06 Dec 05 |  Business
Console bid to cut youth disorder
18 Jan 06 |  Scotland

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