Since 2010, local authorities throughout England and Wales have had their budgets slashed by central Government while their statutory responsibilities have remained the same.
With councils forced to prioritise funding of statutory obligations, non-statutory services have been left severely underfunded and youth services have been particularly badly hit. In fact, local authorities have reduced spending on youth services by 70% since 2010, which amounts to a real-terms cut of around £880 million.
We see the results of this underfunding in our communities as youth centres cut provision or close completely. Between 2012 and 2016, 600 youth centres closed, 3,500 youth workers lost their jobs and 140,000 places for young people went.
At the same time, youth justice services that help prevent young people from re-offending have also received funding cuts of 45% since 2010.
It’s vitally important that young people have access to diversionary activities to keep them safe, entertained, and busy. In my role as Shadow Police and Crime Minister, I know that these services and support networks stop vulnerable young people from falling prey to criminal activity and prevent exploitation by organised gangs.
That’s why the next Labour Government will introduce legislation and provide funding to local authorities that will guarantee quality youth services across the country. We’ll invest properly in the early intervention and preventative services that keep our young people safe.