Tuesday, 25 October 2011

FOI from Unite reveals spending on youth services down to 28p per person

An interesting Freedom of Information (FoI) search of 430 English and Welsh councils undertaken by the union Unite has revealed that government spending on young people’s services has fallen to just 28 pence per young person per day,that's less than the cost of a second class stamp.

The search also reveals that 20 per cent of the country’s youth centres will shut in the next year alone, confirming the union's fear that the 50 year-old youth service will be the first public service to disappear under the coalition.

Spending on services for young people has also dropped by an average of 12.3 per cent in the past twelve months, down from an average of £116 to £102.49 per year, a paltry 28 pence per day on young people.

Further, while councils are enduring an imposed cut of 28 per cent over three years in their funding from central government, the FoI search reveals vastly differing approaches to how councils trim their youth services. One council, Haringey is to spend £114 per young person next year, a 44 per cent increase, yet the prime minister's council, Oxfordshire, will spend just £52 per young person per year – a 22 per cent drop.

The most savage cutters are Norfolk county council, Somerset county council, Lancashire county council, Oxfordshire and Birmingham - all Conservative-run or Con- Dem-led councils.

Unite says that the findings prove that the government's austerity strategy is being felt painfully by young people.

The union is stepping up the pressure for the government to urgently change course, taking part in today's Choose Youth rally for youth services which will see 1,000 young people descend on parliament to demand a fairer deal from the government.

Ahead of the event, Unite's general secretary Len McCluskey said: "When our youth services collapse, then we know squarely where to point the finger of blame; at David Cameron, Nick Clegg and at a government that has nothing to offer our young people.

"Youth services are a soft target for cash-strapped councils. Councils gamble that the problems caused by pulling youth support now won't be seen for years. But as this summer's riots and the near one million young people on the dole show, the day of reckoning may well dawn sooner than expected.

"Young people are fed up by being short-changed. They are bearing the burden of austerity while this government imposes an absurd plan to replace a high calibre, low cost, professional youth service with an amateur service limping along on handouts. This is not governing for the people, it is neglect."

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