School of Sociology and Criminology
youth policies in the UK: a chronological map aboutsearchhome

About this site

This chronology maps the development of government policies, which ‘structure’ youth and affect the daily lives of young people. It tracks developments over the last century in several key policy areas: employment, education and training, housing, social security, criminal justice, family law and civil law. The chronology focuses primarily on the post-war years, including, in this new edition, the first term (1997-2001) of the Labour Government under Tony Blair. Policy developments in the second term (2001 onwards) are described in the final section. 

Policy measures and legislative provisions that shape dependence in youth and young people’s family relationships are distributed between Government departments - there has been, in the UK, no codified body of ‘youth policies’, though there are current attempts to develop a more coherent framework. Ironically, perhaps, the historical segregation of youth policies into different departmental agendas makes the task of mapping easier. Thus, the chronology is organised according to government departmental responsibilities. Where there are cross-cutting policy measures, as is increasingly the case, the main driver has been identified and the measure allocated to one of the policy sections into which the chronology has been organised. 

One of the original reasons for producing this chronology was to collate data on the wide range of policy and legislative measures that structure dependence in youth and (therefore) the relationship between young people, their families and the state. The chronology formed the database for a critical policy review, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and published as Balancing Acts: Youth, Parenting and Public Policy (Jones and Bell, York Publishing, 2000).

This chronology seeks both to provide basic data for analytic research and also to act as a simple guide to the very complex ways in which legislation and policy can affect young people. It is not a comprehensive account, and we are particularly aware of gaps in areas such as health. Just as the chronology formed the basis for our own research we hope that by publishing it on the web it will provide a valuable research facility to others. The file can be downloaded in .pdf format, so that it can be edited as well as printed. Click-on web links are provided in the text so that readers can find out more about measures we have identified here. Please acknowledge this source if you use our material:

We would like to know if you expand or update this publication, or conduct a similar exercise in another country or on another aspect of government policy, so that we can build in appropriate links to your own work. 

Contact address: 

Professor Gill Jones 
School of Social Relations 
Keele University 


Joseph Rowntree Foundation

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has supported this project as part of its programme of research and innovative development projects, which it hopes will be of value to policy makers and practitioners. The facts presented and views expressed in this report, however, are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation. We are grateful to all those who helped and advised us with the data collection on this project, particularly Charlie Lloyd, Principal Research Manager at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and all the members of the project advisory group. 

Robert Bell and Gill Jones 

August 2002