Watchdog MPs have called on ministers to specify the minimum level of acceptable youth services that councils must provide to meet statutory requirements.
The move comes in the wake of a government response to an education select committee report in June that questioned the impact of prime minister David Cameron’s proposed National Citizen Service on existing youth services.
Committee members said they were pleased the government was committed to intervening if councils failed to meet their statutory duty to provide youth services, but questioned the basis on which such interventions could take place if no guidance was offered.
“Given that [the government] has declined to indicate its expectations of an acceptable range of minimum standards of youth services, it is unclear on what basis ministers would judge provision to have failed,” they said.
“We recommend that the government set out the grounds on which it will judge a local authority to have failed to provide sufficient services, and in what ways ministers will act to secure improvement in such circumstances.”
They added that the fact that some local authorities had already effectively closed their youth services underlined the need for an explanation of the grounds for intervention that ministers expected to use.
MPs also complained that the government had dismissed council outturn spending figures that suggested £350m was spent on youth services in 2009-10 as “incomplete” when ministers had not provided their own figures.
They also called on the government to clarify whether it would continue to fund the National Citizen Service beyond its current pilots, and to report on the expected impact that charging for the service was expected to have on participation.