LGA - Funding cuts without reform to put services for teenage NEETS at risk by 2020

9 Jun 2015 11:12 AM

Teenagers not in employment, education or training (NEET) are at risk of being left behind by growth if services are not reformed, councils warned last week.

A Local Government Association (LGA) survey reveals just 7 per cent of councils say they have powers and funding to meet their legal duties to identify and reduce teenage disengagement and secure suitable education and training places for all 16 to 18-year-olds.

It follows a combination of 40 per cent funding cuts from central government since 2010, and the removal of council powers over key services to carry out their duty – such as careers advice, national engagement programmes and further education.

Nine out of 10 local authorities have been forced to reduce spending on support for 16 to 18-year-olds, the survey reveals.

The LGA is calling on government to return key powers – over careers advice, skills, and inefficient national schemes – to councils so that they can deliver on their legal duties and make sure that every young person has the opportunity to take their place in a growing economy.

Four-fifths (82 per cent) of councils responding to the LGA survey agree that greater devolution would enable them to further reduce youth disengagement. Nine in 10 (86 per cent) said they could deliver better value for money with the resources going into their area.

Up to now, councils have sought to minimise the impact on young people by reforming and integrating services (97 per cent), seeking to work with partners (99 per cent), and making back office efficiencies (95 per cent).

But now the majority of councils (97 per cent) warn that without service reform and a return of key powers to councils, a continuation of cuts will put vital services for vulnerable teenagers at risk by 2020.

Currently almost 738,000 young people across England are NEET.

Councils have reduced 16 to 18-year-old disengagement over the last 15 years, now at 7.1 per cent. By contrast, governments have struggled to reduce 19 to 24 year-old disengagement, now at 14.7 per cent.

Cllr David Simmonds, Chairman of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said:

"Councils are determined that every young person realises their full potential. Despite challenges, we are proud of our leading role working with different governments to consistently increase youth engagement over the last 15 years.

"The message from local government is clear. Cuts without reform risk undoing all of our collective good work, putting thousands of promising futures at risk. Councils are uniquely well placed to help young people access the opportunities created by the local employers increasingly frustrated by remote national institutions. It is important that we have the powers, levers and funding to fulfil our legal duties to young people.

"The new government has a real opportunity to build on recent successes and meet its ambition of full employment by enabling local partnerships of councils, schools, colleges, jobcentres and employers to locally coordinate a single youth offer. It will ensure every young person is either in work or learning.

"Over decades, services supporting young people's journey from school to the world of work have grown more complex and disjointed. With the greatest will, this cannot be resolved by national government alone.

"Councils and local partners know that, with the support of government, they can join-up advice, skills and experience around the needs of each young person and local employers to help more reach their potential and ensure no vulnerable youngsters get left behind."

View survey: