I’ve signed a letter to Theresa May that urges the Prime Minister to use her last weeks in office to provide urgent investment in youth services. The letter, which was hand-delivered to Downing Street this week was signed by MPs and councillors from across England.
Young people are paying a heavy price for austerity. In response to cuts from central Government, local authorities have reduced spending on youth services by 70% since 2010, which amounts to a real-terms cut of around £880 million.
On average, councils have cut spending on youth services by £70 per child since 2010/11. As a result, 4,544 jobs have been axed from local authority youth services between 2012 and 2019, and at least 763 youth centres have closed.
A survey of local authority staff, carried out by Unison in 2018, revealed that 90% of youth workers believe that cuts have an impact on their work, while 73% said that local residents don’t receive the help and support they need at the right time.
If that wasn’t bad enough, spending on youth justice, which reduces offending and re-offending among young people, has also been cut by 45% since 2010. These cuts are creating the conditions in which crime can thrive and criminal gangs can more easily prey on young, vulnerable people.
Youth services play a vital role in our communities by helping young people to fulfil their potential and preventing them from being drawn into crime. Those in power should give each generation the best possible start in life and I’m proud that a Labour Government would introduce legislation to guarantee quality youth services for all of our young people.
While the Tories remain in power, I’ll continue to press Theresa May and her successor to provide the investment that youth services desperately need.