Youth services funding cut could pay over 1,000 youth workers – LGA
According to a new analysis by the Local Government Association, more than 1,000 young people and community support workers could be recruited with money taken from a flagship government fund for youth services.
The LGA, which represents 350 councils in England and Wales, fears the government has cut its Youth Investment Fund from £500million to £378million.
The fund, which was announced in 2019 and is to be rolled out to 45 councils, is designed to create, expand and improve local youth facilities and services.
The LGA says that while government investment in facilities and buildings is significant, there should be greater focus on staff and work programs, and that broader investment is needed so that other local areas can benefit from it.
By restoring the £122m deficit, the LGA estimates it could pay around 1,200 full-time youth and community support workers on councils over three years – increasing the total number by around a third – helping to stimulate local efforts to support children and young people. growing mental health needs and tackling rising rates of knife crime.
The LGA warns that with the impact of the pandemic on young people likely to be felt for many years to come, now is not the time for the government to backtrack on promised investments in youth services, which can provide a lifeline for young people.
It also comes as councils are already under severe financial strain to support children, with more than 8 in 10 councils forced to exceed their children’s welfare budgets.
This has partly resulted in a 70% cut in funding for youth services between 2010/11 and 2018/19.
The LGA says that while it is good that the government has announced a youth guarantee and a commitment to develop a youth services strategy, it is essential that these important measures are supported by adequate levels of funding so that councils can invest in youth work programs and staff.
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the LGA Children and Young People’s Council, said:
“We are pleased that the government has recommitted to the Youth Investment Fund and has plans for a youth services strategy.
“However, councils and youth sector partners have already been waiting for more than two years for the start of the Fund to find that the initial funding commitment has been reduced. We are also not convinced that improving facilities should be prioritized over investing in staff work and youth programs, which can transform a young person’s life.
“It is important that the government stick to its initial funding commitment for this vital fund and allow councils to invest in hiring hundreds of full-time youth workers.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, it is really important for young people to be able to build high-quality relationships with trusted adults.
“It is also important that youth services can be flexible to meet needs across the country, depending on where they are most needed. In some cases this may mean that youth workers go to young people, rather than expecting young people to come to them.
Notes to Editors
The average full-time basic annual salary for young people and community support workers employed by councils in 2020/21 was £24,437. With costs, including national insurance and pension, this equates to around £32,803. The £122million taken from the original Youth Investment Fund could fund the employment of 1,239 workers.
There are currently 4,448 full-time youth and community support workers employed by councils.
Bright Futures: our vision of youth services – The LGA has set out its own long-term vision for services and service delivery to young people, including six key principles for effective youth services