Youth support charities suffer fall in council funding as demand rises

By Laura McCardle

| 28 November 2013

The number of voluntary sector youth support services funded by local authorities has fallen at a time when they are providing more help than ever before, new figures reveal.

A survey of youth information, advice, counselling and support services (YIACS) provided by voluntary organisations shows the proportion receiving funding from their local authority has fallen from 90 per cent to 78 per cent over the last two years.

A report, published by Youth Access and the Young People’s Health Partnership shows YIACS are under increasing pressure to provide mental health, social welfare and safeguarding services in order to fill the gaps left by cuts to local authority-led youth services.

Around four out of five agencies surveyed for the Picking up the pieces report, said demand has risen for their services over the last year, with only 30 per cent of YIACS expecting to be able to meet demand over the next 12 months.

More encouragingly, 29 per cent of YIACS reported cuts in the amount of funding from councils, much lower than the 86 per cent who reported cuts last year.

The report also reveals that 96 per cent of YIACS have good links with commissioners of young people’s services, while 58 per cent work closely with mental health commissioners.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Barbara Rayment, director of Youth Access, said: “While it is positive to see the excellent work of many of our members surviving these difficult times, their long-term capacity to continue picking up the pieces will largely depend on the extent to which commissioners recognise this sector’s critical role in providing integrated, person-centred services to young people up to the age of 25.

“In these challenging times, it is crucial for funders and commissioners across youth and adult sectors covering health, housing and social care boundaries to take a joined-up approach to planning and commissioning the services young people will need in the coming years.”

Faiza Khan, co-ordinator of the Young People’s Health Partnership, added: “This report shines a light on the importance of joined-up services.

“The voluntary and community youth sector is crucial to developing solutions in partnership with statutory partners.

“This report points to the importance of a level playing field and a joined-up approach in developing these solutions.”

The report is based on the results of Youth Access’s fifth annual survey of the YIACS sector.

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