The UKDPC research report Charting New Waters highlighted the unprecedented level of change to structures and services currently occurring at the local level. At the same time, the period of financial austerity has led to cuts to services in many areas and the research highlighted the variation in how decisions were being taken on where spending reductions should be made, and how there often appeared to be little consideration of the potential knock-on effects of these cuts. The main focus of the project was on adult drug treatment services and policing but it became clear in the course of the research that in many areas youth services were being particularly hard hit by funding reductions.
This differential impact on children and young people was also highlighted in a recent report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) which stated that “… the ‘next generation’ are the most obvious casualty of the current remaking of local government” . The authors also highlight how the budgetary reductions will impact substantially on families with younger children and on youths/young adults: “particularly those from poorer backgrounds who would be hard-pressed to substitute private forms of service. … Taken in conjunction with the seriously limited employment prospects facing young people in the current recession, the combined effects on this group, and ultimately on communities, could be serious” .
This briefing reviews the changes that are occurring to services for young people at the local level and considers the potential impact of these for drug problems. It draws on interviews with 27 people working in a range of different types of young people’s services in nine local case study areas, a one-day event attended by people from statutory and voluntary organisations working with young people, as well as relevant published reports. The main focus of this report is on services for adolescents, generally those under 18, which tends to be the threshold for transition into adult services. It should be noted that the need for robust transitional arrangements and appropriate service provision for young adults was also raised by participants in the consultation and is a very important issue in its own right, but is one we have not been able to pursue in detail here.