Youth centres close with hundreds of jobs lost due to spending cuts, Unison

Young people’s futures are being put at risk because of cuts in youth services, including hundreds of job losses, a new report warns.

Unison said almost 900 youth worker jobs have been axed since 2016 and more than £13 million has been sliced from youth services across the UK.

At least 160 youth centres have closed in the past few years, leaving the service at “breaking point”, said the union.

Unison said a Freedom of Information request to local authorities, and research among youth workers, suggested that 760 youth centres have closed since 2012.

Three out of four youth workers said they did not feel secure in their job and almost as many were putting in more than their contracted hours, said Unison.

General secretary Dave Prentis (pictured) said: “Youth services have been hit disproportionately hard by spending cuts in the last decade.

“Youth services help with employment, training and education, potential mental health issues, and they act to prevent alcohol and substance abuse, as well as crime and anti-social behaviour. This all saves other parts of the public sector large amounts of money.

“Youth workers are invaluable in ensuring young people have a positive role in society. Funding for these services should not be cut at a time when they are needed more than ever.”

Cat Smith, shadow minister for youth affairs, said: “The report reveals the decimation of youth services under this Tory Government.

“By cutting youth services and closing youth centres across the country, the Tories have created the conditions in which crime can thrive, leaving young people vulnerable to violence.

“Youth centres are a lifeline for so many young people across the country. The next Labour government will rebuild our communities and guarantee high-quality youth services in every local authority to ensure that all our young people have somewhere to go and someone to talk to.”

A Government spokesman said: “We’re providing local authorities with £90.7 billion over the next two years, and it’s their responsibility to allocate funding based on the needs of their residents.

“We remain committed to supporting children and young people. This includes providing an extra £1.4 billion for mental health youth services, and we’re on track to ensure that 70,000 more children a year have access to specialist mental health care by 2020/21.

“We’re also providing £18m funding over two years to 29 projects through the new Early Intervention Youth Fund, to help prevent and tackle youth crime and violence.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Anthony Devlin / PA Wire.