Cuts to Newham youth service may create ‘lost generation’ claim

Youth services in Newham are being slashed as council chiefs battle with Government cuts, new figures reveal.

Nearly �800,000 will have been lopped off the budget for providing a range of projects for youngsters in the borough by April, next year, according to data released this week.

Government belt-tightening has meant 53 part-time employees hired to staff youth centres, run training scheme and other projects in Newham, are being shed, data obtained under a freedom of information request by the UNISON union shows.

General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “Youth services are being seen as a soft target, with councils making huge cuts, or removing whole services. This includes the loss of projects for rural communities, young mums, young carers, counselling and anti-social behaviour prevention. These challenges are especially hitting young people from low income families.

“The Government is failing young people - they should lay down clear statutory responsibility to councils to make sure they provide vital youth services. Cutting the help and support that young people need to give them a secure and productive future is a false economy. A young person in the criminal justice system costs the taxpayer more than �200,000 by the age of 16, but one who is given support to stay out, costs less than �50,000.

“Youth work should be available to all young people, without it young people can fall through the net and join a lost generation struggling to get work, or an education.”

Newham Council said it was working to mitigate the impact of Government grant cuts by paying remaining staff to do more.

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A spokesman added: “Despite the significant reduction in central government grant funding, we will ensure that open access to youth provision is available to all young people living in the borough. We are also continuing to provide additional support services to those young people that need extra help to make a smooth progression from adolescence to adulthood. At least one key youth centre and one additional provision is available in each of our nine community areas. These offer open access, evening and holiday provision as well as other targeted programmes.”