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More than 2,000 youth workers axed in past two years, research finds

More than 2,000 youth workers axed in past two years, research finds

In excess of 2,000 youth worker posts have been cut and 350 youth centres have closed since 2012, according to latest research by Unison.

The research, into the effect of austerity measures on local youth service provision, also found 41,000 youth service places for young people and 35,000 hours of outreach youth support work have disappeared over the last two years.

The study, which has been published to coincide with United Nations International Youth Day (August 12), is based on Freedom of Information Act enquiries to 168 councils and a survey of Unison members in youth services.

The union estimates youth services lost £60m in funding between 2012 and 2014, with just under three quarters of councils scaling back youth service spending as a direct result of central government cuts.

Unison’s local government head Heather Wakefield said: “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.”

Among councils that submitted a response was Essex County Council, which revealed it had cut youth service spending by 44 per cent between 2011/12 and 2012/13. Over the same period Surrey County Council reduced its youth service spending by 43 per cent.

Another to respond was Warwickshire County Council, which cut its youth service spending by 56 per cent between 2012/13 and 2013/14.

Wakefield added: “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.”

Unison is calling on the government to draft legislation to ensure every council provides a youth service and employs its own youth workers.

Earlier Unison research found that youth service spending had been cut by £62m in 20101/11 and £137m in 2011/12.

The Cabinet Office has been contacted for comment.

Story courtesy of CYP

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