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EACEA National Policies Platform


1. Youth Policy Governance

1.7 Funding youth policy

Last update: 28 March 2024
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  1. How Youth policy is funded
  2. What is funded?
  3. Financial accountability
  4. Use of EU Funds

How youth policy is funded

Youth policy is funded through the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY). The Youth Justice, Adoption, Youth and Participation Division of DCEDIY is responsible for the effective administration and reform of youth service funding. 


Youth Services Grant Scheme
The Youth Services Grant Scheme has supported National Youth Organisations in Ireland and their youth policy initiatives since the 1980s. It aims to support the delivery of services that benefited the social and personal development of children and young people. In 2022, €12.9m was allocated for expenditure through the YSGS scheme. This allocation funds 30 national youth organisations, with Individual annual grants ranging from around €3 million to less than €50,000. Pobal (a semi-state body) administers the scheme on behalf of DCEDIY. The figure for 2023 for this specific schemes is not yet publicly available, however, in the Government's 2023 budget, there was a 4% increase in funding provided to youth services on the ground [as discussed in a debate in the lower house of the Irish Parliament (called a Dáil Éireann Debate) about Youth Services on 30 May 2023].


UBU Your Place Your Space 

A targeted youth funding scheme called UBU Your Place Your Space was launched in December 2019 and began in July 2020. This scheme brought together four already existing, overlapping schemes with a value of over €38.5 million. The first cycle of UBU – Your Place Your Space runs to December 2023. The scheme is discussed further in section 4.7 Youth work to foster social inclusion.


What is funded?

The youth policy priority areas receiving funding are:

  • Child protection and welfare
  • Alternative care
  • Youth affairs
  • Youth justice
  • Participation
  • Play and recreation
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI+) 
  • Financial accountability.


Financial accountability

The Public Spending Code sets out rules and procedures that ensure high standards are upheld across the Irish public service in relation to public funds.

Recipients of public funding are accountable for their use of public funds to the body which awarded it. For example, organisations receiving funding from DCEDIY are accountable to DCEDIY. Depending on the specific fund, private auditing may be required. Often a number of funded projects are also selected for public auditioning (based on random selection and/or a specific concern / query with a project). Typically annual reports, with a compulsory format (and for larger grants specific indicators) are required.

Most organisations working in the field of youth in Ireland are non-profit organisations and often registered charities. Registered charities in Ireland are accountable to the Charities Regulator. Chairites must submit an annual report within ten months after the charity’s financial year-end date. These annual reports describes the charity's activities and financial affairs over twelve months, and are published in the online Public Register of Charities


Use of EU Funds

The current European Social Fund programme, European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), runs from 2021-2027. The ESF+ is the EU’s instrument for investing in people. It aims to improve employment and education opportunities, to enhance social inclusion and to tackle poverty. The main objective of the ESF+ is a more social Europe. It will support the principles of the European pillar of social rights and the implementation of recommendations under the European Semester.

Member States with a substantial number of young people not in employment, education or training will have to dedicate at least 10% of the ESF+ funding to measures in support of youth employment and activation of young people.

Member States must allocate at least 25% of ESF+ funding to measures fostering social inclusion and targeting those most in need, while a target of 4% is also set for supporting the most vulnerable.

ESF+ will be more coherent with and complementary to other Funds that provide support to people, such as Erasmus+, the Asylum and Migration Fund, the European Globalization Adjustment Fund, and the Structural Reform Support Programme .

The regulations for the upcoming programming period are still under negotiation and Ireland’s final allocation for the ESF+ has yet to be decided. The ESF+ is a co-financed programme, meaning that EU funding must be matched by a set percentage of national funding. This co-financing rate varies by region.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Education, and the three Regional Assemblies had a consultation process to prioritize EU cohesion funding in Ireland for the period 2021-2027. There were 128 attendees at the workshop and 109 submissions were received.

The European Social Fund (ESF) in Ireland funds several youth schemes under four priority areas:

  • Priority 1: Sustainable and Quality Employment
  • Priority 2: Social Inclusion and Equal Opportunities
  • Priority 3: Education, Training and Life-Long Learning
  • Priority 4: Youth Employment Initiative. 


Key youth programmes funded under Priority 2: Social Inclusion and Equal Opportunities include


Key youth programmes funded under Priority 4: Youth Employment Initiative


Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020

The European Social Fund along with the Irish Government co-founded the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.

The Youth Employment Initiative aims to tackle youth unemployment and implement the Youth Guarantee by providing jobs, education, and training opportunities for individuals under 25 who are not in Employment, Education or Training.

The key areas chosen for investment under the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020 focused on:

  • helping people get back into education, training, or work.
  • helping those at risk of being excluded socially or from the job market; and
  • encouraging youth employment and improving access to education.

The Programme provided €1.157 billion in funding to over 20 national measures. It was formally approved by the European Commission in February 2015 and was launched in April of that year. The Programme involves a total investment of €1.157 billion; over €544 million each from the ESF and the Irish Government and a special allocation of just over €68 million from the EU’s Youth Employment Initiative.



As this Youth Employment Initiative ended in 2020, Social Justice Ireland have called for the adaption of the new Youth Employment Strategy as the current Programme for Government does not mention youth unemployment or a strategy to tackle it. Due to Covid-19, young people will be disproportionately affected by unemployment as the economy recovers from Covid-19. The new Government must build on the European Commission Youth Employment Support package to ‘bridge jobs for the next generation.’

Young people face a challenging labour market situation. The European Commission is proposing that a minimum of €22 billion be mobilized for a Youth Employment Support package to mitigate the effects of the pandemic for young people in the labour market. The new Government should use the strands of the Youth Employment Support Package as a guide to designing a strategy to deal with this crisis at a national level. 

These strands are:

  1. Stepping up the outreach to vulnerable young people across the EU aged 15-29 years 
  2. Vocational education and training
  3. Renewed interest in apprenticeships
  4. Additional measures to support youth employment including start-up incentives.