Youth Offending Services (YOS) at risk in the face of more job cuts

The Youth Offending Service (YOS) in Lambeth Council is facing another restructure and more job losses. Currently there are 32 people in the service, only a short while ago it used to be 52, but staff report that the work load means it needs to be more like 70.

Lambeth has a serious problem with child poverty and gang violence. The YOS is on the front line dealing with children with complex needs. The cuts are further damaging the ability to provide the service that is so urgently needed.

In addition the number of agency workers has sky rocketed. Many members of staff only stay for brief periods meaning that vulnerable young people can be seen by as many as six different case workers in the space of a year.

Depleted staff teams has led to casework overload, with too many cases falling on fewer shoulders.

Now YOS faces yet another reorganisation with potentially eight members of staff at risk. This is happening even though there are job vacancies in the teams.

Staff are also concerned that the new structure means there is little chance to job or career progression and won’t make best use of the many skills on the team to deliver the right service. The Council haven’t listened to staff about how to improve the service, ignoring their suggestions and forging ahead with a damaging restructure that is impacting on an already underfunded and over stretched service.

UNISON is arguing for no compulsory redundancies and to ensure the service can not only survive but improve its important provision for young people.

As one UNISON member in YOS explained; “It’s very demoralising. There is work to be done, but these cuts and restructures are making it hard to do it. The Council is not bringing in skilled people to engage with the kids to help them take responsibility for themselves. In seems that some people are being forced out because their faces don’t fit.”