DAVID Blunkett marked the opening of Labour's general election campaign by announcing an extra pound;20 million for the community and youth service.
But Community and Youth Workers Union (CYWU)general secretary Doug Nicholls says this is the first new money the service has received since Labour came to power in 1997. "The overall budget of pound;230 million is still less than that of 1979 in real terms," he said.
Delegates at the CYWU annual conference in Plymouth learned that the money is intended to support youth work across the country, extend local provision and foster partnerships between voluntary and statutory sectors.
The new money was announced by the minister for lifelong learning Malcolm Wicks. However, the star of the conference was Welsh Assembly youth service minister Jane Davidson who outlined the policy for young people evolving in Wales. This has now become a model for other Euroean countries.
Mr Nicholls said: "It is based on recognising that there needs to be investment, that there should be qualifications for people working in the service, and on the concept of youth entitlement to services. Wales has an understanding of the ethical codes that those working with young people should have, whereas in England there is little regard to an ethical basis."
He reinforced his call for the youth service to have statutory recognition. "It is critical towards achieving a better deal for our young people," he said.
"The service should not have to go begging from trusts and funds. We want a realistic change to the legislation to recognise that our work is of equal value to that of schools and colleges.
"In Wales and Scotland, there have been positive developments. We could end up having a patchwork of different rights and entitlements across the Britain."