We must support young people and the services they rely on

As public servants, we all understand that we have a duty of care for our communities. Young people in particular often rely upon local youth services to reduce isolation, build confidence and help them lead positive lives.

Yet a report we’ve published today shows that these services have been slashed by an estimated £387 million in just six years, hitting hitting communities across the country.

A Future at Risk: Cuts in Youth Services – shows more than nine out of ten (93%) youth workers say their local authority employer has cut services since 2010 with more than half (55%) of councils reducing spending on youth services such as youth centres, outreach support and advice for young people in the past year alone.

In total this means 140,000 places for young people lost. More than 3,600 youth work jobs lost. 600 youth centres closed.

The situation is bleak and it is getting worse. At a time when young people – especially the least well off – need our help this is an absolute travesty.

UNISON is calling for several reforms including provision of youth services to become a statutory duty for councils, for services to be fully funded and kept in-house, and for young people to be consulted on changes to services.

Youth workers are tireless in the support they provide to young people, for example helping them find work and getting more education. In the months and years ahead, it’s time we as a country showed the same level of dedication to our young people – and reverse the damaging tide of youth service cuts, before it’s too late.