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Government cuts significantly affecting youth services – UNISON

More than 2,000 youth workers have lost their jobs and 350 youth centres have been closed over the last two years as a result of government cuts, new research by Unison has revealed.

Based on FoI data collected from local authorities across the UK, and a survey of Unison members working in youth services, the study highlights that since 2012 youth services have lost at least £60m of funding.

Additionally, nearly 75% of local authorities revealed they had scaled back youth service spending because of cuts.

The overall picture shows a reduced level of service, provided by staff who are more thinly spread and unable to work as productively as in the past. In particular, it has been estimated that 41,000 youth service places for young people have been lost, while 35,000 hours of outreach work by youth workers have been removed in the period under review.

Heather Wakefield, Unison head of local government, said: “Cuts to youth services lead to increased poverty, crime, higher youth unemployment and an increase in teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. These factors will have major knock-on effects on communities, the criminal justice system, the health service and the economy.

“Qualified youth workers, and youth support workers, are a vital part of our public services and provide real value to our communities. But Government spending cuts are creating a crisis with skilled workers forced out of the profession, with an increasing reliance on untrained staff and volunteers to work with vulnerable young people.”

The report highlighted a number of cases where cuts have been made. For instance, Essex County Council cut youth service spending by 44% between 2011-12 and 2012-13, while Surrey County Council reduced spending on its service by 43%. The following year, between 2012-13 and 2013-14, Warwickshire County Council slashed youth service spending by a staggering 56%, while Havering lopped off 39%.

But a Cabinet Office spokesperson told PSE: It is in everyone’s interest to ensure young people are offered opportunities in life. This government is committed to cutting down the largest deficit in the UK’s post-war history and creating a bright future for young people. As part of these efforts it is vital that local authority youth services find creative ways of doing more for less.

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