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04 August 2020

On 29th July 2020, Siân Berry AM published London’s Lost Youth Services 2020, the fifth in a series of reports documenting the dramatic decline in local authority funding for youth services in London boroughs since 2011/12.

You can find out more about previous versions of the report here: 2018 and 2019.


The report

Key figures

  • At least £35.5 million has been removed from council youth services budgets since 2011/12
  • A further £600,000 is currently planned to be removed in the 2020-21 budget year
  • 101 youth centres have closed since 2011/12. The average number of local authority youth centres in each of the compared boroughs has fallen from 9.4 in 2011/12 to 5.7 in 2019/20
  • 733 youth worker jobs have been lost since 2011/12
  • Based on information provided, only two local authorities are currently spending more on youth services than they were in 2011/12
  • However, the average level of local authority funding to the voluntary sector has increased overall, from an average of £222,657 in 2011/12 to £432,000 in 2019/20

Recommendations

  1. The Mayor of London should commit to support for the Young Londoners Fund on a permanent basis.
  2. The Government must help councils with restored funding to bring youth services back to at least pre-austerity levels.

Our statement

Rosemary Watt-Wyness, our Chief Executive, was quoted in the report’s foreword:

This report and its predecessors provide us with an invaluable insight into the challenges facing young Londoners and the organisations that support them, now further compounded by the impact of COVID-19.

At a time when young Londoners are facing such a range of complex challenges to being happy, healthy, safe and skilled, there are 733 fewer youth workers supporting them. That represents over a million hours of learning and growing, of talking and building trusted relationships, and of having fun in safe places in one year. 78 per cent of youth workers in our network reported they were now engaging with fewer young people than pre-lockdown, with 73 per cent reporting a negative impact in young people’s mental health during the same period.

Young Londoners need a healthy and sustainable youth sector with long-term funding and support for high-quality community youth organisations, now more than ever.

There are huge disparities in youth service budgets between different local authorities, with some London boroughs spending more than ten times as much per young person. Strengthened guidance and ring-fenced funding would end this lottery for services that young Londoners face based on where they grow up.

Every young Londoner, no matter their background or which part of London they live in, deserves to have high-quality, open-access services within their community.”


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Samuel Howell, Policy Officer