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EACEA National Policies Platform


1. Youth Policy Governance

1.7 Funding youth policy

Last update: 27 July 2022
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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 is responsible for the effective administration of youth service funding, along with the reform of youth funding programmes.

A targeted youth funding scheme called UBU- Your Place Your Space, was launched in December 2019 and began in July 2020. The National Youth Service Funding Scheme works in conjunction with local service providers, who offer young people a dedicated ‘place’ and a ‘space’ in their local community. UBU - Your Place, Your Space brought together four already existing, overlapping schemes with a value of over €38.5 million. It arose from the results of a 2014 ‘Value for Money and Policy Review’ of the Youth Programmes that target disadvantaged young people. UBU – Your Place, Your Space is discussed further in Chapter 4.7 Youth work to foster social inclusion.

As noted in the DCEDIYs Statement of Strategy (2021-2023) UBU has now become fully implemented on a continuous improvement basis.


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

Strategic Goal number 2 of the DCEDIYs Statement of Strategy (2021-2023) states that the department ‘will ensure the provision of a range of quality and sustainable services, underpinned by strategic investment, that meet the needs of individuals, families and communities.’ One of the priority activities of Goal 2 is to develop and enhance youth service provision in Ireland, including through reform of youth funding programmes and strengthening of youth quality initiatives. The performance indicators for this goal shows the departments goals for the period 2021-2023 including the reform of the Youth Services Grant Scheme and the youth quality support mechanisms will be strengthened.

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.


Use of EU Funds

The current European Social Fund programme, 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 ages 15-29 
  2. Vocational education and training
  3. Renewed interest in apprenticeships
  4. Additional measures to support youth employment including start-up incentives.