Improvements needed in services for young people

Improvements needed in services for young people

Reports identify a lack of support in some key areas

Opportunities for improvement in public service support of the well-being of young people have been highlighted in a series of reports issued today by the Auditor General for Wales. The work focusses on five topics: youth homelessness, young adult carers, young parents, mental health, and skills and employability. The reports highlight a lack of support in some key areas which public services in Wales need to address.

The complex problems faced by some young people often result in them being sent between different agencies. Research shows that young people living in temporary accommodation are more likely to have a psychiatric disorder than the general population. Similarly, young adult carers are more likely to have a mental health problem, and young parents are more likely to have depression. Many young people cannot get help from specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) because they do not have a diagnosable mental illness and the Welsh Government doesn’t know whether these people get help elsewhere or what other services there are to help meet their needs. Sometimes vulnerable young people find that they have to join-up services for themselves.

After a decade of budget cuts, the reports find that many services are feeling the pressure, with concerns that young people are being particularly hard hit. More can be done to join-up services and ensure they are meeting the needs of young people. While the focus of the reports is the Welsh Government, public services across Wales have a key role to play in tackling these deep-seated problems.

Overall, three broad areas where there are opportunities for improvement in the Welsh Government’s approach have been identified:

  • Being curious: Finding out what matters, what support is available and what difference it makes
  • Being purposeful: Communicating a clear purpose that inspires and empowers public services
  • Being brave: Creating the conditions that encourage experimentation and celebrate success

Auditor General for Wales, Adrian Crompton said today:

“Public bodies need to listen more to young people and better understand what matters to them if they are to provide services that fully meet their needs at a crucial stage in their lives. The Welsh Government has a pivotal role to play in providing leadership to the public sector in Wales. My reports clearly identify opportunities for improvement in its approach and I hope that the information brought together in our data tool provides a helpful resource for all those with an interest in the well-being of young people.”


Notes to Editors:

  • The reports focus on 16-24 year olds and seek to understand how well the Welsh Government is joining up across its policy areas and what impact its approach to strategic planning is having on young people themselves.
  • The work consists of a summary report and five reports focussed on different well-being topics: youth homelessness; young adult carers; young parents; mental health; and skills and employability. The work also includes an interactive data tool.
  • The work is framed in the wider context of public service transformation as set out in various Welsh Government plans and laws, like Prosperity for All, the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act (2014) and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act (2015) and the supporting Future Generations Framework for Service Design.
  • The Wales Audit Office has been working with other organisations to examine a common theme of ‘Youth’. The education inspectorate Estyn published its report on youth support services in July 2018. Healthcare Inspectorate Wales published its review of healthcare services for young people in March 2019. Care Inspectorate Wales published its report on care experienced children and young people in June 2019.
  • The Auditor General is the independent statutory external auditor of the devolved Welsh public sector. He is responsible for the annual audit of the majority of the public money spent in Wales, including the £15 billion of funds that are voted on annually by the National Assembly. Elements of this funding are passed by the Welsh Government to the NHS in Wales (over £7 billion) and to local government (over £4 billion).
  • The audit independence of the Auditor General is of paramount importance. He is appointed by the Queen, and his audit work is not subject to direction or control by the National Assembly or government. 
  • The Wales Audit Office (WAO) is a corporate body consisting of a nine member statutory Board which employs staff and provides other resources to the Auditor General, who is also the Board’s Chief Executive and Accounting Officer. The Board monitors and advises the Auditor General, regarding the exercise of his functions.
The well-being of young people