UK & World News
Cuts Lead To Mass Closures Of Youth Clubs
Youth leaders have described as "scandalous" the government cuts which have resulted in the closure of 350 clubs across Britain in the past two years.
A total of £60m in funding for youth services has been lost since 2012, which has resulted in 2,000 job losses, according to 168 replies by local authorities to Freedom of Information requests.
And there are fears that more cuts in the next two years could have an even more devastating effect on teenagers' access to youth clubs.
"I'm more than disappointed, I'm angry," youth worker Sue Atkinson from Youth Association South Yorkshire, told Sky News Online.
"The people who are making these decisions are people who have benefited from free university, free health and free access to youth services.
"Those are choices that are being denied to young people today and it's scandalous."
At the Hideaway Youth Project on Moss Side in Manchester they should be preparing to celebrate its 50th birthday next year, but instead they're facing a fight for survival.
The centre - the oldest in the Manchester area - needs £50,000 by March or it may have to close.
It currently opens five days a week and has 900 members aged 11 to 25, but all that could be about to change.
"We're struggling to survive," said project leader Julie Wharton.
"It would be a real shame if we shut in our 50th year. We now need to keep finding ways of funding ourselves.
"Funding for us has probably been cut by a quarter and we are looking at further and further cuts.
"We've lost staff because of the funding cuts and we don't know where we stand at the moment."
But some councillors argue it's now a case of using what funding there is in a wiser fashion.
"There are a lot of national schemes for young people and they are not delivering the right bang for the buck," said Cllr David Simmonds from the Local Government Association.
"Clearly this is going to be a challenge for some councils. They have to deal with road repairs and potholes and in some cases, flooding and its aftermath.
"This is a time of national austerity and the government is cutting funding to councils by about 40%.
"Our big concern is that cash being spent on national programmes is not delivering."
Union leaders are urging the government to ensure that local authorities must make provision for adequate youth services.
It's estimated that 41,000 youth service places have been lost over the last two years across the UK.