Rise in knife crime shines spotlight on youth services cuts

From YMCA: Youth services have become the ‘go to’ budget for cuts as local authorities do not recognise the long-term benefits to young people, YMCA has warned, after an analysis shows spending across these services in England and Wales has fallen by 61% over the past six years.

YMCA England & Wales, which supports 33,560 young people through youth work and youth services every year, today released its analysis of local authority spending on youth services, revealing it had reduced by more than £750m since 2010/11 across England and Wales.

Young people in the West Midlands and the North West have been among the hardest hit, with local authorities in the West Midlands cutting spending by 71% since 2010/11, while the North West saw cuts of 68%. Local authorities in London, which have faced criticism following the rise in recent knife crime among young people, have cut spending on youth services by 59% since 2010/11.

[Read full article on YMCA website…]

“Cut youth services and violent crime will rise – is that really so hard to see?”

Polly Toynbee writes in The Guardian… Another young person killed in the escalating epidemic of violence. The cause? Take your pick.

The right blames Theresa May for easing up on stop and search for weapons – though she knew there is no evidence that it catches or deters, while it fuels anti-police anger. Others suggest decriminalising drugs would destroy the trade that underpins this mayhem.

Unless you think nothing works, shutting down most youth services, including successful programmes to tackle gang violence, was always likely to ricochet back. Youth services went first in the post-2010 slash-and-burn of council budgets. The young poor were early targets for all benefits cuts: their education maintenance allowance went – up to £30 a week for 16- to 19-year-olds from lowest-income families to keep them in education, covering travel, lunches, books and pocket money. Their families lost child tax credits, child benefit and housing benefit, and were often forced to move and move again.

Causes are always complex – but does anyone think those cuts had zero effect on young teenagers turning to gangs, drug-dealing and local identity wars, seeking a fleeting sense of respect as so much was taken away?

[Read full column on Guardian website…]

Youth work sector ‘devastated’ by cuts, Labour says

From TES: Funding cuts have “devastated” the youth work sector, the Labour Party has said. Analysis by the House of Commons Library, and commissioned by Labour, had shown that under current budget plans, £422 million will have been cut from spending on youth services between 2011-12 and 2017-18.

[Read full article on TES website…]

“The cuts are taking youth clubs back to their Victorian roots”

Sue Shanks writes in the Guardian: “Many of the 1960s youth club buildings are now closed and demolished, while youth services are under threat as never before. Research by Unison, based on a Freedom of Information request to 168 local authorities, shows that youth services lost at least £60m of funding between 2012 and 2014. More than 2000 jobs were lost. Around 350 youth centres closed and 41,000 youth service places for young people and at least 35,000 hours of outreach work by youth workers were cut.

“Research demonstrates the impact of youth work on young people’s lives. Youth workers help young people through difficult times, signpost them to health and other services, go with them to court, support them to find employment or housing. Young people trust youth workers because of the relationships they have built up, on a rock climbing trip or simply over a game of pool. Youth workers meet young people on their own territory and in all youth work interventions the young person chooses to be there and to engage. Open access work means that young people are not stigmatised and can enjoy their leisure time in a safe space with their peers. For those with mental health issues, a local youth work presence can be a vital lifeline.”

[Read full column on Guardian website…]

Service cuts see young lives written off, claims union

From BBC News: The livelihoods of young people are being written off due to cuts to youth services budgets, union Unison has claimed.

About 100 centres have closed with 360 jobs cut in Wales in four years.

The union’s Dominic MacAskill, called on councils to provide at least a “baseline” service.

But the Welsh Local Government Association said the lack of standard success measures made it a complex area for authorities.

Spending on youth work in Wales has dropped from £23m in 2013 to £19.3m in this financial year.

Read more

Youth services heading towards collapse, says union

From BBC News: UK youth services are heading for collapse, research into the scale of council cuts since 2012 has suggested.

Some 600 youth centres have been shut, 3,650 youth staff have lost their jobs, and 139,000 youth places have been axed, the report for Unison says.

And information from 180 councils warns of more cuts ahead, and suggests the youngsters most in need are being left with nowhere to turn for support.

[Read full article on BBC News website…]