The Youth Work Profession

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2019 Local Government Service Group Conference
13 February 2019
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that youth services play a crucial role across the UK, and the work youth workers and youth support workers do provides huge value to the lives of the people they engage with. Youth services help young people into employment, training or education; they help with potential mental health issues; and they help prevent alcohol, substance abuse, crime and anti-social behaviour.

In 2018, UNISON published research that made clear the extent of the damage inflicted on youth services by the government’s cuts. Between 2010 and 2019, £400m was cut from youth service spending, resulting in the loss of more than 4,500 youth work jobs and 760 youth centres between 2012 and 2019.

Conference agrees with the Labour Party that local authorities should have a statutory duty to provide youth services. But this duty can only be meaningful if it is backed up by resources. Conference therefore calls on the government to restore funding to local authorities so that they can provide these vital services for young people.

Conference also believes that youth services should be provided on a universal basis, accessible to all young people. This should be backed up by monitoring, to ensure that young people from different equality groups are all able to access youth services.

Conference believes that quality youth services can only be provided by trained, qualified youth workers and youth support workers. In recent years, cuts and re-structures have diluted the use and importance of JNC-qualified youth workers. Youth services frequently end up merged with other services like social work, youth offending teams, and libraries, and this often means that youth work qualifications are no longer a requirement.

This has meant that fewer and fewer qualified youth workers are employed, and in recent years several universities have stopped providing their youth work degree courses in response. The result is a systemic decline in youth and community work.

Conference calls on the service group executive:

1)To continue to campaign for universal youth services directly provided by local authorities;

2) To highlight and promote the importance of qualified youth workers and youth support workers, and the importance of clear professional standards;

3) To continue to defend the youth work profession from the threats posed by cuts and service mergers, and to promote the importance of the link between high quality services and the JNC-endorsed degree qualification;

4) To work with the Labour Party to seek to ensure that a future Labour government would legislate for a statutory duty for local authorities in England to provide youth services, backed up by sufficient funding from central government;

5) Work with UNISON’s Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland regions to campaign for a statutory duty for local authorities to provide youth services, backed up by sufficient funding, working with appropriate political parties where possible;

6) To further promote UNISON’s report, Youth services at breaking point, so as to highlight the extent and impact of the cuts in youth services.