Unite urges Wolverhampton council to save its youth service

Unite urges Wolverhampton council to save its youth service

24 February 2014

Young people in Wolverhampton risk losing their youth service, if the council’s ‘slash-and-see’ model gets the green light, warns Unite.

Unite, Britain’s biggest union, is calling on Wolverhampton city council leaders to abandon plans to slash the youth service’s budget by a further £1 million and invest in a smaller in-house service that puts youth work back at the heart of the community.

The council joins a growing list of authorities to contract out and shrink youth services in the face of central government funding cuts of 51 per cent over five years. But plans to hand £400,000 a year to the charity Youth Zone undermines youth work as a profession and risks destabilising the service, warns Unite.

The cuts could see just eight youth work positions remain with up to 140 redundancies (76 full time equivalents). Unite questions the viability of the plans which rely on unqualified and unpaid volunteers to fill the gaps left by the loss of professionally trained youth workers.

Unite national officer Collette Cork-Hurst said: “Council leaders are relying on a dangerous 'slash-and-see' model in the hope that volunteers will pick up the pieces of the abandoned services. But young people and communities value the work and relationships with professional youth workers. 

“The council’s plans are an insulting blow to the thousands of Wolverhampton’s young people who rely on the service for support on employment, health and personal issues and much more.

“Our youth worker members are professionally qualified to provide services, such as sex education and assistance with substance abuse problems, within a universal framework for young people. They build trusting relationships with young people who often feel alienated and let down by the system – that is now under threat.

“Unite is vehemently opposed to the council’s plans to effectively get rid of Wolverhampton’s youth service. We will campaign to ensure that universal youth work is put on a firmer statutory footing by a future  government.”

Wolverhampton city council currently employs 140 youth staff who help more than 20 per cent of Wolverhampton’s youth population, delivering services in schools, the local hospital and city-wide projects such as youth participation. Over the next year this could be slashed to eight full time equivalent posts.

The authority wants to save a further £1.1 million in 2015/16 on top of the £750,000 of savings already agreed for 2013-15.

For further information please contact Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774 146 777

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1

Notes to editors:

  • 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.