Cutbacks on youth services could be increasing the pressure on social workers, BASW has warned after the publication of a Unison report highlighting the impact of spending curbs on youth work.
Unison’s The Damage report found that £60m had be cut from youth service budgets between 2012 and 2014 resulting in 2,000 fewer youth workers and the closure of 350 youth centres. It warns that “a crisis is developing as a result of local authorities scaling back or reconfiguring their youth services in response to spending cuts”.
Heather Wakefield, the public services union’s head of local government, said the cuts would led to more poverty, crime, unemployment, mental health issues, teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases among young people. “These factors will have major knock-on effects on communities, the criminal justice system, the health service and the economy,” she said.
Nushra Mansuri, professional officer at the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), said social workers were likely to be among those faced with dealing with the knock-on effects of cuts to youth services, which she called “staggering”. “I think all these cuts to vital services like youth services will just mean that social services are left to absorb more and more unmet need but sadly it will have had to reach a critical point for a child or young person to receive a service and that’s the real tragedy,” she said.
Mansuri added that she had often worked with youth services in her career as a social worker and valued their input. “I think they provide a very effective preventative service for young people which can make a difference to people’s childhoods,” she said.
Mike Short, senior national officer for local government at Unison, agreed that these cuts would have an impact on other services, be it in the future or with children’s services now being required to pick up the slack as we begin to see “a generation not being catered for”.
“We are seeing a growing tendency of services becoming wrapped up as one, which leads us to believe that they will be moved into a way where more services are going to be provided by less groups for less resources,” he said, adding that youth work helps reduce unemployment and mental health problems and thereby helps to reduce the pressure on other services.