Following on from our postcode lottery report on careers work in local authoritities I was dismayed to read about recent cuts in Merseyside. In essence it looks like funding for career and youth support in the local authorities is being halved.
Unfortunately this confirms much of what we found in the postcode lottery research. In essence local authorities are continuing to do their best to provide some youth support, but any such provision is now increasingly outside of their official remit. Given the pressure that LAs are under financially this doesn’t bode well for the future of such services. As budgets get squeezed non-statutory responsibilities are going to get harder and harder to justify.
This is not to say that LAs have no responsibility and no choices to make. As our research demonstrated, the choices that are made vary across authorities. Nonetheless it is clear that dual attacks from central government on both LAs responsibilities (power) and budgets (resources) mean that it is going to be increasingly difficult for LAs to act in this area.
In the short term this is worrying because of a loss of services for young people. In the long term it is also worrying because it means that we are seeing an erosion of local democracy and the capacity of communities to address the issues that concern them.