This paper explores a sample of youth workers’ narratives in which ethical concerns over cuts to youth service funding was a prominent topic of conversation. It relies on data drawn from a qualitative inquiry into professional youth work practice that was contextualised by the austerity measures of the Conservative led Coalition Government in the United Kingdom (2010–15). The youth workers shared concerns that young people were being ‘abandoned’, expressed frustration over managerial systems and identified dilemmas over prescribed funding that might be construed as ‘handing over our ethics’ and at odds with their professional values and practice. A discursive analysis afforded glimpses of engaging narrative techniques and social interaction underpinning these accounts, and illuminates professional beliefs and debates, contributing to an ‘accessible data archive’ [Have, P. ten. 2007. Doing Conversation Analysis. 2nd ed. London: Sage] of this community of practice.