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

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More than two-thirds of council-funded youth centers have closed in England in the past 14 years due to a sustained squeeze on local authority funding, according to research by Unison.

The union, one of the UK’s two largest organisations, said in a report published on Saturday that 1,243 youth centers had been closed in the time since the Conservative coalition government and the Liberal Democrats took office in 2010, leaving only 581 active centers.

The collapse of youth services has left young people “at risk of isolation and being caught up in gang culture and the knife”, Unison warned, calling on the next government to prioritize rebuilding net.

Mike Short, Unison’s local government lead, said: “In the past, youth centers were able to help young people stay on track, providing guidance and advice to young people who might otherwise not have taken get any support at home”.

He added that more than a decade of service cuts had “destroyed much of the good work that had gone before”.

Local government budgets were among the worst hit in the period after the financial crisis when David Cameron’s government cut public sector funding as part of its austerity drive.

Although councils have received increases in funding in recent years, overall, in real terms, they are still around 20% worse off than they were in 2010, according to official figures.

The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, forecast last week there would be The funding gap is £6.2 billion over the next two years driven by the rising cost and need for adult and child social services and addressing homelessness.

The LGA said a shortfall in government funding had left councils with less money to provide for other services. Youth services were hit particularly hard.

Unison said the number of youth centers closing in some areas had doubled, with Tower Hamlets council in London closing 57 and Birmingham city council, which declared de facto bankruptcy in 2019. last year, reducing the total to 42.

In its report, the union said the closures had created a “lost generation of young people”.

Community leaders and local authority officials in Leicester during the unprecedented violence between Hindu and Muslim youth in 2022 have warned that the decline in youth services has caused they have a limited understanding of how young people’s lives are developing.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which oversees youth services, said it could not comment because of regulations governing the general election campaign.

But officials note that by 2022 the government has committed to spending £500m over three years to ensure “every young person in England will have access to regular clubs and activities, stay away from home and volunteer opportunities”.

Building and renovating 300 youth centers is part of the goal.


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