Youth services are being savaged by government cuts
One in four of England’s youth services face catastrophic cuts of between 21-30 per cent – three times higher than the general level of council cuts. Many authorities intend to get rid of their youth services completely, while 80% of voluntary organisations providing services for young people have said programmes will be cut. Local authority chiefs predict that youth service budgets will be slashed by £100 million, leading to the loss of 3,000 full-time youth worker jobs.
A recent report into youth services, by the Education Select Committee, demonstrates that the government has no policy to support young people beyond slashing youth services and handing provision to the market. The findings of the committee confirms the worst fears of campaigners, who have warned that youth services will be the first public sector service to disappear as a result of government cuts.
Local authorities in England last year spent £350 million on youth services, which equated to just £77 per young person aged 13-19 – an amount characterised by Children’s Minister Tim Loughton as 'large slugs of public money'. In contrast, the select committee warns that the cost of funding the government's 'only flagship youth policy', the National Citizens Service six-week programme, will far outstrip the cost of current year-round provision.
In many areas cuts have reduced youth provision to a skeleton service. In West Sussex, Tim Loughton’s own constituency, centres have been closed and jobs lost. In Oxfordshire, youth workers will lose their jobs from 1 September, and in David Cameron's Witney constituency young people are campaigning to save youth centres from closure.
Lancashire County Council has announced massive cuts of £8.4 million over three years which will result in youth centres closing, a reduction of operating hours for remaining services, and loss of jobs for professionally trained workers. Kent County Council plans to close 24 youth clubs and street-based projects, and cut the equivalent of 25% of full-time posts.
Youth services are big society in action, but the government’s cuts programme is starving voluntary-led organisations of funding too. 70% of funding for voluntary sector youth services comes from local authorities. Cuts to funding mean more than 400,000 young people will be denied the opportunity to volunteer. The number of workers supporting young volunteers will fall from 792 to 170. After 15 years of working with youth action projects and organisations, Youth Action Network has had to close its doors and hand its membership to the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services.
At a time of escalating youth unemployment and fragile economic growth, young people are fast becoming the ‘jilted generation’. One million young people are on the dole. Hundreds of thousands more will be priced out of education.
Choose Youth, a coalition of more than 30 national voluntary youth sector organisations and trade unions, has joined forces to save services for young people, and to preserve the right of all 13-19 year olds – and those with disabilities of up to 25 – to universal, open-access youth service provision. On 23 July we will hold a major free event in London. Please join us – find out more at www.chooseyouth.eventbrite.com.
- Posted by: Kerry Jenkins at 12:33pm on 14 July 2011
- Filed under: Children and young people, Voluntary sector
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