Bright Futures: our vision for youth services

This publication sets out our long-term vision for youth services and provision, outlining the LGA’s aspirations to support local work in this area.

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'Bright Futures: our vision for youth services' is based on existing good practice around the country, and feedback from councils, partners and practitioners. It is our ambition that this resource will provide a starting point in taking a fresh look at youth provision, encouraging true collaboration between all providers, to give every young person the bright future they deserve.

Our vision is for all young people to enjoy their lives, reach their full potential and make a good transition to adulthood. They should be able to achieve their ambitions, develop positive relationships and make worthwhile contributions to their communities.

We want to help councils to work across departments and with their partners to support all young people to do this, enabling access to both universal services and targeted support through safe spaces and activities that young people need, want and value. We will develop a range of support for local authorities to help them to work towards delivering the vision, and use it to help make the case for additional government funding for youth services that genuinely meet the needs of young people.

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Making sure all children and young people can have the bright future they deserve is a key ambition of every council. But our children’s services are under increasing pressure, and every council in the country has seen major changes to their youth provision over the past decade. Demand for child protection support has increased dramatically at the same time as local authority funding has been significantly reduced. Recent research suggests that central government funding for children and young people services has fallen by £2.4 billion since 2010, and our analysis shows that an additional £2 billion funding gap will have opened up by 2020. Councils have had to make extremely difficult decisions about how to allocate increasingly scarce resources, and youth services have seen their funding reduced as councils are forced to prioritise urgent help for children at immediate risk of harm. This has had a particularly strong impact on the availability of open access, universal services, with provision increasingly targeted at those in greatest need.

Yet councils still retain statutory responsibilities to make sure, as far as possible, that there is sufficient provision of educational and recreational leisure-time activities for young people, despite the increasingly limited funding available to do so. They have a vital role to play in youth provision, whether they are delivering this directly, commissioning services or maintaining oversight of local provision. This includes informal and non-formal learning, safe spaces to meet friends, youth voice services and sports and leisure activities. Councils also have a responsibility for the wellbeing of all young people in their area.

We know that councils are determined that all young people can enjoy where they live, reach their full potential and enter adulthood with confidence and optimism. Local authorities work hard to make the best use of available funds to support as many young people as possible, particularly those with the greatest needs. However, we also know that funding cuts have had a significant impact on universal services in particular, that services in many areas have become fragmented, and as councils have faced different funding and need challenges, levels of provision differ around the country.

This document sets out our long-term vision for youth services and provision, outlining the LGA’s aspirations to support local work in this area. It is based on existing good practice around the country, and feedback from councils, partners and practitioners. We will develop a range of support for local authorities to help them to work towards delivering the vision, and use it to help make the case for additional government funding for youth services that genuinely meet the needs of young people.

Youth services are unlikely to return to the same levels of the pre-austerity years. However, we have a duty to our younger citizens to do the very best we can with what we have, and to argue for better. We hope that this document will provide the starting point to taking a fresh look at youth provision, encouraging true collaboration between all providers, to get the best for our children and young people.

 

 


Helping children and young people to fulfil their potential is a key ambition of all councils, but our children’s services are under increasing pressure. This resource forms part of the LGA's Bright Futures campaign our call for fully funded children's services.