Cuts to Youth Services

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2013 Local Government Service Group Conference
18 February 2013

Conference deplores the continuing cuts to youth services in the statutory and voluntary sectors. Much of the infrastructure is disappearing fast with 100% cuts to services being common. The workforce is facing major redundancies and those workers who survive the onslaught are facing attacks on their pay and conditions. Conference therefore congratulates those branches who through negotiating, campaigns and alliances with other trade unions and young people have defeated or mitigated the impact of cuts.

A well-funded youth service promotes social inclusion, encourages partnership working, assists young people at risk, gives young people hope and aspiration and is cost effective.

The youth service is the only public service that young people themselves have helped to build and its disproportionate targeting for cuts has symbolised an erosion of opportunities for young people generally and disregard for their voice. Conference therefore welcomes the Service Group’s work with the National Youth Members Forum to develop a UNISON alternative Positive for Youth agenda.

The Education and Inspections Act 2006 (s6) places a statutory duty on local authorities to secure access to positive activities for young people, as well as seeking and taking account of their views in the development of services. This Act has been largely ignored by government and local authorities. Conference firmly believes this Act should now be extended and applied. New statutory powers should:

1)Specify the key elements of a statutory youth service

2)Set standards for each element of a local ‘youth offer’, including information, advice, volunteering , activities and how young people should have a say

3)Ensure youth services are not taken further out of local authority control with the consequent lack of democratic accountability and lack of transparency

4)Establish clear arrangements for internal quality assurance complemented by regular external inspection and reporting by Ofsted

5)Ensure rigourous action to raise the quality of poorly-performing services

Conference calls on the Service Group to continue to

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

b)Build a network of youth and community worker activists at national and regional level to campaign to protect jobs, pay and conditions and share good practice

c)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

d)Campaign to defend youth services by building national and local alliances with youth bodies and organisations representing those working with young people