fbpx YMCA - a decade of cuts to youth services - London Youth
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16 February 2022

The YMCA published their report “Devalued – a decade of cuts to youth services”  this week. It was based on the submissions sent in to the Department for Education by local authorities regarding their spend on youth services.

It reveals that not only have funding cuts for youth services now reached £1.1bn (a real-terms fall of 74% since 2010/11) but annual spend per head on 5-to-17-year-olds in England has plummeted from £158 in 2010/11 to just £37 in 2020/21.

Some of the reporting does need a modest caveat. More than one London Borough was listed as having a zero-return on youth services into the Department of Education (DfE) on youth services spend. Yet at least one of them has clarified that their youth service spend was several million pounds, and captured under a different DfE classification.

There is nonetheless a pattern of  swingeing cuts across the decade. These were  also highlighted in the August 2021 Sian Berry Report.  The YMCA has  similarly outlined disparities in funding between Inner and Outer London boroughs:

  • Outer London annual spend per head is £46 versus Inner London £72.
  • Real-terms local authority spending on youth services suggests that a decade ago, money spent per 5-to-17-year-old in Wales was £72 – less than half the amount in England (£158) at the time.
  • Today the spend per-head in Wales (£48) is 30% higher than in England (£37).

The funding gaps in youth service provision reinforces the need for a long-term sustainable national Youth Strategy. It is at least encouraging that officials at both a regional and a national level recognise that greater collaboration is both necessary and expedient. All policies impact young people, whether these are at a pan-London level (i.e across all London Recovery Missions) or at a national, pan-Whitehall level (i.e. across DCMS, DfE, DWP, DLUHC).

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