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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 14:40 GMT
Good behaviour scheme for teens
Teenage girls
Feeling bored? Well not if Mr Brown has anything to do with it.
Well-behaved teenagers are to be rewarded with a so-called "good behaviour card" to spend on sport and leisure, under plans being unveiled.

Chancellor Gordon Brown wants to give 13-19 year-olds up to 25 a month to keep them "off the streets", as part of a crackdown on anti-social behaviour.

But youngsters who repeatedly misbehave will have their cards withdrawn.

"The hardcore will not get it. This is for the decent, well-behaved young people," the chancellor told the BBC.

Hanging around

The scheme is among a number of measures to improve services for young people, including giving them a say on how youth budgets are spent in local authorities.

Laws will be introduced to force all councils to ensure that youngsters have access to leisure activities, including at least two hours of sports and two hours of other "constructive" pastimes.

The traditional youth club could be a lot better for young people - it could keep people off the streets and it could encourage good behaviour
Gordon Brown

The "youth opportunity" cards will be piloted in 10 areas in England and will entitle teenagers to spend 12 a month in better off areas and 25 in the most disadvantaged.

But Mr Brown says the vouchers will only be available to youngsters who behave themselves, and not those who persistently misbehave.

"We have been tough on anti-social behaviour and that will continue," he told BBC Breakfast.

"But young people themselves are as angry about anti-social behaviour by other young people as are elderly people.

"But they say to me 'what's there to do? We hang around street corners because there is no place to go and nothing to do' and I do think there's a gap here."

Fears

The scheme was given a cautious welcome by national charity, the YMCA, whose national secretary Kevin Williams warned against it becoming "an expensive gimmick".

"All the young people we talk to highlight either that cost stops them taking part or the fact that the activities just don't exist in the first place," he said.

"The YMCA is worried that taking cards away for 'bad behaviour' will backfire.

"Young people hang around on the streets because they have nowhere else to go. Take away their opportunity to spend their time positively and you just make social exclusion worse."

Mr Brown is set to announce that a total of 115m will be given to young people's groups over the next two years, to be spent on activities in their areas.

'Midnight football'

The cash is in addition to the 1.6m spent each year on youth opportunities and services.

Mr Brown argues that 98% of young people actually do behave, and he could see the cash being spent on "midnight football" or the setting up of radio stations for teenagers.

"The traditional youth club could be a lot better for young people - it could keep people off the streets and it could encourage good behaviour," he said.

He also wants to encourage more youngsters to get involved in volunteering and community service.

The plans include the provision of "professional coaches" for badly-behaved teenagers to keep them out of trouble.

Mentoring schemes, to give advice, guidance and work experience in 180 secondary schools are also to be set up.

The vouchers will be piloted in Bolton, Cambridgeshire, Camden, Durham, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, Nottingham, Suffolk, Sunderland and Tower Hamlets.


SEE ALSO:
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The politics of volunteering
02 Jun 05 |  UK Politics
To fly or not to fly?
08 Jun 04 |  West Midlands
Cash plan for volunteer gap years
18 Feb 04 |  UK Politics


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