fbpx What do the London elections mean for the youth sector? - London Youth

29 April 2021

After a year’s postponement, London will elect a new Mayor of London and London Assembly on the 6th of May. Whoever is elected will play a pivotal role in London’s recovery from COVID-19 and addressing the many challenges that affect young people growing up in the capital.

You can find out more about who is standing and how to vote here.

Read below for our summary of key commitments that the Mayoral candidates have made and how they might affect young people and London’s youth sector.

Mayoral candidates

Shaun Bailey, Conservative

Shaun Bailey is a London Assembly Member and was previously a youth worker and a Government adviser.

Read the manifesto here.

Key commitments:

  • Fund 32 new Youth Zones: “I will fund the creation of a new Youth Zone in every borough. This will help to steer young people towards education and training opportunities. These will be modelled on the pioneering OnSide Youth Zones, which each attract upwards of 300 users a day and have typically led to a 50 per cent drop in crime and anti-social behaviour in the local area post-opening. Youth Zones offer a combination of sporting, educational, creative and enterprise activities designed to take the postcode lottery out of opportunity. My mayoral Youth Zones would be provided by organisations such as OnSide and similar youth charities.”
  • Fund 4,000 new youth workers across London: “Only 64 per cent of youth organisations in London have received emergency funding, and 31 per cent will struggle to operate within 6 months if they do not receive funding. I will establish a new Mayor’s Youth Service which will allocate funding to youth organisations and charities in each borough with the specific purpose of hiring new youth workers that address community needs. As I know, youth services are at their most effective when they promote opportunity and give paths away from violence.”
  • Appoint a new Deputy Mayor for Young People.
  • Protect free travel for those over-60s and under-18s.
  • Establish an Office for Community Policing.
  • Create a new Mayoral County Lines Taskforce.
  • Develop a new £11.3m Second Chances Fund.
  • Create a Second Chance School in each of London’s Young Offending Institutes.

Sian Berry, Green Party

Sian Berry is currently a London Assembly Member and is co-leader of the Green Party.

Read the manifesto here.

On her record working with the youth sector, her campaign notes her work “since 2016 to expose cuts to youth services and win new funding through the Young Londoners Fund (YLF) has been successful, but the funding so far does not replace all the cuts that have been made under austerity.” The campaign also references her role in “pushing for a public health approach to preventing crime from the start, and we are pleased  the current Mayor has set up and funded a new Violence Reduction Unit (VRU).”

Key commitments:

  • Youth service funding: “Expand the Young Londoners Fund further, and do much more to lobby Government to reverse council cuts to budgets. Youth work in London needs to be provided at gold standard levels, accessible to every young person not just those facing difficulties – our young people deserve nothing less.”
  • Push the Government to make youth services a statutory service and to fund councils to provide a comprehensive programme of youth centres and youth workers.
  • Ensure the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) has complete independence and more funding to carry out its work, hold the Mayor to account, and recommend changes to policing.
  • Expand diversion and early interventions within police budgets: “This will include making support from the current Divert programme available to every young person aged 18-25 who comes into police custody, (and similarly for programmes for under-18s) and expanding the number of youth workers available in hospital A&E and their ability to support young people for longer and refer them to appropriate services and support.”
  • Extend free bus travel for under-18s and the Zip card discount concessions further, aiming to increase the age limit to 21 for carers as priority, and for all young people as soon as possible.

Sadiq Khan, Labour

Sadiq Khan is the current Mayor of London and was previously a lawyer, MP and Government Minister.

Read the manifesto here.

Sadiq Khan references his record on supporting the youth sector as Mayor: “Supporting young Londoners to to fulfill their potential by investing £70 million in youth services and sports projects including through the Young Londoners Fund, benefitting over 110,000 young people.” He also notes the establishment of the Violence Reduction Unit, through which £35 million has reached more than 80,000 young people, and establishing a mission focused on young people as part of London’s recovery.

Key commitments:

  • Building on Young Londoners Fund: “I intend to build on this work and the collaboration forged between leading funders during the pandemic, to create a longer-term, multi-million-pound fund to support young Londoners with positive opportunities and provide a mentor.”
  • Maintain the VRU to support young people most at risk of violence through the provision of meaningful and positive opportunities.
  • Lobby the Government to devolve funding and responsibility for the NCS.
  • Invest in mental health first aid training across London’s schools and work with the NHS to ensure every London school and young person’s setting has a mental health worker.
  • Lobby the Government to support young people’s mental health services, and ensure that by 2025 London
    will have a quarter of a million wellbeing ambassadors.
  • Maintain young people’s travel concessions and introduce half-price travel for care leavers.
  • Lobby for education funding and devolution of 16-19 skills, and work with local authorities to support inclusive education across London and tackle exclusions.
  • Lobby for devolution of careers support from the Government so that London can have an all-age careers service.
  • Establish sector-specific skills academies in growth sectors, including the green economy, digital, tech, health and social care and creative industries.
  • Champion apprenticeships and promote their use within the GLA.
  • Lobby Government to reduce fees for UK citizenship and to regularise the immigration status of young Londoners.
  • Support lowering the voting age to 16.

Luisa Porritt, Liberal Democrat

Luisa Porritt is a former Camden councillor and MEP.

Read the manifesto here.

Key commitments:

  • Establish a London Youth Service: “The Liberal Democrats will establish a London Youth Service to help  coordinate and improve access to activities for young people after school. After the school bell goes and before parents are home from work is when so many young people tragically fall prey to serious violence – either as a victim or perpetrator. The UK needs a statutory youth service and the Liberal Democrats will fight for the government to provide it. In the meantime, City Hall can act as a coordinating body to bring the disjointed funds and pockets of valuable work together. The London Youth Service will work borough-by-borough to unite community halls, faith groups, sports clubs, night clubs, libraries, empty shops on high
    streets, theatres, businesses, as well as schools themselves, under one umbrella to provide a
    comprehensive programme of after-school activities.”
  • Establish London Apprentice Hubs.
  • End homelessness with a housing-first policy; young people must have 24/7, all-year-round access to shelter.
  • Oppose plans to end free travel for young people.
  • Fund free tickets to West End shows for young people from low-income families.

Samuel Howell, Acting Policy Manager

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