Austerity is punishing an entire generation – where are the voices of the ‘youth sector’?

Sunday’s Guardian carried a letter signed by over a hundred leading academics and activists, ‘The chancellor must end austerity now – it is punishing an entire generation.’ We publish it in full below and ponder why we still await a similar, impassioned call from the youth sector’s leadership?


The violence of austerity cover - cropped

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Seven years of austerity has destroyed lives. An estimated 30,000 excess deaths can be linked to cuts in NHS spending and the social care crisis in 2015 alone. The number of food parcels given to impoverished Britons has grown from tens of thousands in 2010 to over a million. Children are suffering from real-terms spending cuts in up to 88% of schools. The public sector pay cap has meant that millions of workers are struggling to make ends meet.

Alongside the mounting human costs, austerity has hurt our economy. The UK has experienced its weakest recovery on record and suffers from poor levels of investment, leading to low productivity and falling wages. This government has missed every one of its own debt reduction targets because austerity simply doesn’t work.

The case for cuts has been grounded in ideology and untruths. We’ve been told public debt is the outcome of overspending on public services rather than bailing out the banks. We’ve been told that while the government can find money for the DUP, we cannot afford the investment in public services and infrastructure. We’ve been told that unless we “tighten our belts” we’ll saddle future generations with debt – but it’s the onslaught of cuts that is punishing an entire generation.

Given the unprecedented economic uncertainty posed by Brexit negotiations and the private sector’s failure to invest, we cannot risk exacerbating an already anaemic recovery with further public spending cuts. We’ve reached a dangerous tipping point. Austerity has failed the British people and the British economy. We demand the chancellor ends austerity now.

Looking Ahead to Action in Camden on April 6


News from Camden Save Our Youth Service and Camden UNISON of a demonstration against the cuts on Wednesday, April 6.

At this time, Camden’s Labour council is due to vote on whether or not to approve plans to slash the budget of Camden’s integrated youth support service, leaving the service over 60% worse off in real terms than in 2011. Join us in saying No to these cuts, which will have a devastating impact on young people in the borough.

The council has approved a widespread cuts package, including massive £1.6 million cuts to youth services which already suffered £1.8 million of cuts in 2012. This will leave the service 62% worse off in real terms than in 2011. We believe this will have a significant detrimental impact on young people in Camden as opportunities and positive activities will be slashed.

Come and show your opposition to the cuts by demonstrating with us outside the Cabinet meeting of Camden Council, at Camden Town Hall, Judd Street entrance at 6 PM.

Here are the headline changes:

-£1.6 million in funding cuts
-64% cut in universal youth service provision
-closure of two youth centres
-closure of the COOL project funding activities for low income young people
-closure of the Under 25’s Advice Centre
-70% budget cut to Connexions careers and jobs support for young people
-further cuts to the youth offending service
-25 to 30 full-time equivalent jobs lost

More info here:

NCIA says farewell, but the struggle continues


Ever since our emergence in 2009 we’ve been fellow-travelers with our friends at the National Coalition for Independent Action [NCIA]. It is with some sadness that we publish its farewell letter, but we are sure that our paths will continue to criss and cross!

Hello Good Friends,

Thank you so very much for signing our open letter, as part of NCIA saying goodbye. We are proud to be associated with such an array of people and initiatives who, not only refuse to keep quiet, but are involved in practical action to stop the nasty stuff going on. What we’re particularly proud about is the diversity of action that you all reflect: truly civil society with all its power.

We’ve now posted our goodbyes on our website and social media

and have released the open letter to the world

Over the next couple of days we’ll be circulating the sector media and networks, as well as the mainstream media.

Any help you can give us to spread our news and the open letter would be great – a final expression of solidarity, or perhaps even relief! We’ll be redesigning our website as a legacy resource, after we have closed, for those wanting to access the stories, evidence and connections we have gathered. For those wanting to be part of the ‘Next Generation for Independent Action’, the NCIA Facebook page continues as does our discussion space on the National Community Activist Network (final tidying up still to do).

It goes without saying…..we think you’re great!

With love and attitude

Penny & Andy xxx

More Youth Services under threat now and in the future

Hardly an uplifting start to the week, but we can become inured to this relentless assault. It’s necessary to keep being aware and angry.

youth service cuts

Thanks to Jack Menzies and Adam Muirhead for the links.

Calls to support under-threat youth services in Dorset

A PORTLAND councillor has criticised plans to cut youth services in Dorset.

Weymouth and Portland Borough councillor for Tophill West, Cllr Penny McCartney has thrown her support behind the work that youth services do in the area.

Cllr McCartney has accused the council of damaging the futures of young people.

She said: “Dorset County Council are naive if they think that cutting this service will save money, the knowledge and expertise these staff have are irreplaceable, the council is damaging the futures of young people.

“They need one-to-one advice, that is the early intervention, do we feel that private companies can do better? Do we think that a phone helpline is a viable alternative? I hope not.”

We’ll go bust in two years – stark warning about the state of the Brighton’s finances issued

The outgoing Greens are evidently to blame.

The city council must face up to unpopular and difficult cuts or faces “going bust within two years”.

The stark warning by children, young people and skills committee chairman Tom Bewick comes as he unveiled details of looming budget cuts to children’s services.

The controversial plans to make 30 per cent budget savings of £13.5 million from children’s services in the next four years are:

-Children centres to be cut from 12 to seven

-Reducing the number of council-run special needs schools from six to three

– Three council run nurseries to be transferred to private or voluntary sector

– The end of the council-run youth service

– Cutting funding for the free Playbus with trained children’s playworkers.

Labour Councillor Bewick, a former government advisor, blamed “immoral” cuts from a Conservative government and a “head in the sand” approach from the previous Green administration for the financial black hole the council now found itself in.

Bravo! Students 4 Youth Work – new group enters the fray

Message from the newly created group Students 4 Youth Work

Students 4

Please support us! We are a new group that has been started by BA (Hons) Youth and Community students at the University of St Mark and St John in Plymouth. We aim to get active and take a stand against the dismantling of the Youth Services thats happening nation wide. We would love to be able to count on your support and any like, share, advice or anything else you can think of would be massively appreciated.

Facebook page –

Perhaps students in other institutions can join forces.

Much to be welcomed, but someone needs to chat with Jeremy about Youth Work and a Youth Service

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On a morning when polls suggest Jeremy Corbyn is increasing his lead in the Labour Party leadership contest he’s put a smile on the face of many a youth worker. In his A Better Future for Young People document he pledges, “Labour should maintain the commitment to a statutory youth service, in order to offer young people the benefit of wide-ranging, advice, guidance and support to access further and higher education.”

More broadly he argues,

“Young people have faced more challenges under austerity than the generation before them.

“To win the next election Labour must stand for a growing economy not a cuts-based economy that chokes off growth, stifles recovery and makes life harder for young people.

“It is wrong and immoral that our young people are three times more likely to be unemployed, to be paying huge rents and struggling with enormous tuition fee debts.

“What sort of country are we that we punish our young people for getting themselves educated, or wanting to get a job? I’ve been listening and working with Young Labour members and this is their vision of the future they want.”

The full list of pledges is as follows:

    • Reducing the voting age to 16 years.
    • An end to all tuition fees in further and higher education.
    • The creation of a National Education Service for all free at the point of use.
    • The restoration of student grants, Education Maintenance Allowance & Disabled Students Allowance
    • The introduction of a statutory £10 an hour living wage for all workers, including replace the current £2.73 per hour apprenticeship rate with an equalisation of a higher, £10 a living wage across the board.
    • A Labour Party committed to properly funding, increasing and improving apprenticeships schemes. Committing colleges to work in partnership with employers to mutually accredit apprenticeships and courses that offer high quality transferable skills.
    • Establishing a Living Rent Commission to implement rent controls and protect tenants in the private sector by capping rent increases.
    • Equal rights at work regardless of age or time worked, with a ban on zero hour contracts, and place a weekly minimum for hours on contracts.
    • An end to different payments in benefits for under 25s and the same rate of Jobseekers Allowance for all seeking work and restoring equal access to housing benefit for under 21s.
    • A statutory youth service to provide advice guidance and support to young people wanting to access further & higher education.
    • Compulsory sexual, consensual and relationship education.
    • More autonomy within the party for Young Labour, enabling them to make their own policy and run their own campaigns with fully funded youth officers.

Obviously there is much to be welcomed here – to say the least. However I don’t think it’s churlish to suggest that someone with Jeremy’s ear needs to sort out his understanding of the nature and purpose of youth work. His pledge sounds much more a commitment to a Careers Service than a Youth Service.

Young People on the receiving end yet again of political and economic dogma

Following the budget a number of articles have appeared lamenting the government’s attitude to young people.

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What have young people done to Osborne to deserve such contempt? by Polly Toynbee

She begins:

Why are the young caught in the cross-hairs of this government? That will mystify future social historians. Most societies talk of them as “our future”, to be nurtured and encouraged, but in yesterday’s budget, yet again they were pursued in a special vendetta of dislike, bordering on disgust.

She ends:

In his time, Osborne has stripped the young of education maintenance allowances, shrunk tax credits, child benefits, upped tuition fees, cut further education colleges and careers advice while stripping away youth services. But above all, he and his party have monstered the young. Nice young people now stay home until their 30s, unable to find housing. Nice families stay together forever. The children of the rest are blamed and punished.

Budget 2015: A shameless, unmitigated attack on the poor, the young and families by Siobhan Fenton

She notes:

The Budget not only attacks young, poor families but attempts to sanction young people too. If you’re from a poor family and you want to go to university, your maintenance grant no longer exists. They grant system has been swept away and replaced by loans. But if you now can’t afford to go to university and have to stay at home and try to work, the new minimum wage doesn’t apply to you because it only affects over 25s. Over 25s will be paid more than under 25s for the exact same job. And when not having fair wages means you struggle to pay your rent, the government will now deny you housing benefit until you’re 21. This triad of policies will hit young people from every angle and make it next to impossible to have a fair start in life.

And in  this video

Kelly, aged 19, who lives in a YMCA, gives her take on the Chancellor’s decision to end automatic entitlement for 18-21 year olds.

 “If they cut housing benefit, we’re going to be out on the streets and in danger.”

Channel 4 News.