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Youth Services in England: The State of the Nation

This publication provides a ‘state of the nation’ snapshot of the state of youth services within England. It is produced by the National Youth Agency (NYA) as part of its Routes to Success programme with the Local Government Association (LGA)1. The NYA believes that there is a real need for a paper of this kind to not only illustrate the scale of the challenges that local authority services for young people continue to face, but also to highlight the ways in which the sector is working innovatively in delivery of youth services.

From the NYA’s work with local authorities it is clear that major revisions are underway in the way councils and their partners deliver the vital youth services that support young people’s well-being. In a number of areas, there is a particular focus on early intervention with vulnerable young people or on targeting limited resources to support the most vulnerable. It is clear that, whilst in a few places services are taking the difficult decision to no longer offer services for young people, in many more there was a strong ambition to find new ways of delivery that go some way to meeting young people’s needs.

It is possible to identify some overall trends, although there are exceptions among individual authorities. These trends include:
• Reconfiguration of services in the context of reduced budgets and the need to achieve greater efficiencies
• A move towards integrating services and adopting locality-based delivery
• A greater focus on targeted work and, in some cases, moving delivery of all open access work outside the local authority
• Open access provision increasingly delivered by external providers, including voluntary, community, faith and private sectors, and other council departments
• The development of commissioning processes and budgets, accompanied, in some instances, by support for VC S capacity-building
• Recognition of the need to make more effective use of data collection and recording to plan services and demonstrate achievements
• Some strong commitment and effective approaches to supporting young people’s voice and influence, but indications that this focus has been lost in some authorities
• Some moves towards generic staff roles across services for young people. Decline in number of opportunities for development
• The establishment of neighbourhood or district arrangements bringing together a range of partners to assess needs and coordinate provision