July 18, 2024

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Two-thirds of council-funded youth centres in England closed since 2010

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More than two-thirds of council-funded youth centres have been closed in England over the past 14 years, owing to a prolonged squeeze on local government finances, according to research by Unison.

The union, one of the UK’s two largest, said in a report published on Saturday that 1,243 youth centres had been shuttered in the period since the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government took office in 2010, leaving only 581 in operation.  

The collapse in youth services has put teenagers “at risk of isolation and of being swept into gang and knife culture”, Unison warned and called on the next government to prioritise rebuilding the network.

“In the past, youth centres were able to help keep teenagers on the right path, providing guidance and advice to youngsters who perhaps weren’t getting any support at home,” said Mike Short, Unison lead for local government.

He added that more than a decade of cuts to services had “undone much of the previous good work”.

Local government budgets were among the hardest hit in the period after the financial crisis when David Cameron’s government slashed funding to the public sector as part of its austerity policy.

While councils have received a funding boost in recent years, overall they are still roughly 20 per cent worse off in real terms than they were in 2010, according to official figs.

The Local Government Association, representing councils in England and Wales, forecast last week a funding gap of £6.2bn over the next two years driven by rising costs and demand for adult and child social services and for tackling homelessness.

The LGA said shortfalls in government funding have left councils with less money to provide to other services. Youth services have been especially hard hit.

Unison said the number of youth centre closures in some areas ran into double figures, with Tower…

2024-06-14 19:02:13

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