As the nation heads to the polls today (Thursday 8 June) Unite, Britain’s biggest union, is calling on the next government to invest in youth work and for a legally ‘protected title’ for youth workers.
The call, which is set out in Unite’s vision for children and young people, comes as youth services and the youth work profession in England fights for survival in the face of funding cuts of around £700m since 2010.
Unite’s vision for children and young people sets out a road map for the new government, framed around three main priorities; the creation of a universal youth service protected in statute, the introduction of a legally protected title for youth workers and a national register.
With government figures showing that local authority spending on youth services fell from £1.2bn in 2010/11 to just £500m in 2015/16, Unite has warned that whichever political party wins at the polls, it must create a universal service for young people, protected in statute by dedicated ring-fenced funding.
Unite’s vision includes calls for the reversal of cuts and a national youth and play work strategy as well as a register so that youth workers are given the same status as other sections of the children and young people’s workforce.
Unite has welcomed Labour’s manifesto pledge to reverse seven years of Tory cuts which have which have seen 600 youth centres shut and over 3,000 youth worker jobs lost.
Colenzo Thorpe-Jarret, Unite national officer for Community, Youth and Play workers said: “Whichever political party wins at the polls, it must commit to creating a statutory requirement for local authorities to provide youth services. This must be properly funded and protected by dedicated ring-fenced funding.
“With youth work professionals in a battle for survival in the face of attacks to their jobs and JNC terms and conditions, our vision includes calls for the introduction of a legally ‘protected title’, as well as a national register for youth workers.
“Without these protections, anyone can claim they are a youth worker which is putting children and young people at risk.
“Over the past seven years we have witnessed an assault on youth services, with cash-strapped councils slashing their services. Over 600 youth centres have shut and more than 3,000 youth workers have lost their jobs.
“Our vision for children and young people will protect youth services for future generations. It is why we welcome Labour’s pledge to reverse cuts to youth services over the past seven years.
“This will provide a much-needed boost to universal youth services across the country for the benefit of children and young people everywhere after years of cuts, closures and redundancies.”
For more information please contact, Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774146777.
Note to editors:
Read Unite vision for children and young people here.
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.