Cuts in Youth Services

Back to all Motions

2012 Local Government Service Group Conference
23 February 2012

Conference deplores the tsunami of cuts to youth services in the statutory and voluntary sectors. Across the country, councils are taking an axe to their youth services – the very youth clubs and projects cited by the prime minister as examples of excellence are being lost. The workforce is facing major redundancies and those workers who survive the cull are facing attacks on their pay and conditions.

As councils drastically cut youth services open access youth work is fast disappearing and councils are focusing on targeted youth work. Youth work is becoming solely about early intervention and youth workers becoming ‘youth social workers.’ It is also clear that as local authorities restructure more youth workers are being taken off Youth and Community Workers JNC terms and conditions.

Conference firmly believes that at a time of mass youth unemployment, cuts to young people’s services are a very false economy and will be more costly in the long run. These are not just services to meet immediate needs today, but represent investment in prevention of more costly interventions tomorrow.

Conference also congratulates all those branches and regions who through bargaining and negotiating and alliances with other trade unions and young people have defeated or mitigated the impact of cuts.

Youth services need investment to tackle the new challenges that young people face. Urgent action is needed now to ensure that the services young people need and rely on do not disappear by the time new guidance and measures referred to in the Governments Positive for Youth initiative are introduced.

The case for youth work needs to be heard amongst all the competing demands for resources. Young people are paying a heavy price for a crisis not of their making and this government is doing too little to protect them. Conference calls upon the Service Group Executive to continue to develop resources to:

1)Defend vigorously our members’ jobs and terms and conditions, including, where appropriate, through industrial action within UNISON’s rules and procedures;

2)Continue to build a network of youth and community activists to campaign to protect jobs, pay and conditions;

3)Further develop and update recruitment materials for regions and branches to increase our membership;

4)Produce materials that can positively influence public attitudes towards youth workers including the value of the jobs and impact of youth work on young people;

5)To work with other service groups and the National Youth Members Forum to develop a UNISON alternative positive for youth agenda;

6)Work with the National Young Members Forum, the General Political Fund and Labour Link to promote the urgent need for proper investment and statutory protection for youth services to ensure that they can tackle the challenges facing young people today;

7)Continue to campaign to defend youth services by building national and local alliances with youth bodies and organisations representing those working with young people.