New analysis by YMCA shows that Local Authority spending on youth services in 2019/20 in England was £372.12m, a further reduction of 6% year-on-year. This means that since 2010/11 funding for youth services has been cut by 73%.
Not only do these continued cuts come at a time when demand for youth services has intensified, they come at a time when the crucial investment has been promised but not yet fully delivered.
Add to this the disproportionate and devastating impact of the pandemic on young people’s mental health, and youth services find themselves at their most critical point in history.
YMCA’s Back on Track report (August 2020) found that more than half (57%) of young people felt that their mental health had worsened during lockdown, with 77% feeling lonelier and more isolated.
This is on top of recent findings from NHS Digital which cite that one-in-six children aged 5-16 now identified as having a probable mental disorder, an increase from one-in-nine just three years ago.*
After suffering such disruption during their formative years, it is more important than ever for young people to have access to services and safe spaces for their personal, social and emotional development outside of home or school.
These services are a key element in young people’s recovery, both now and into the future, and it is crucial that funding delivers on what they so desperately need.
Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England & Wales, said:
“In our Out of Service report one year ago, YMCA warned that without significantly re-investing in youth services we would be condemning young people to become a lonely, lost generation with nowhere to turn. The traumatic impact of the pandemic, combined with faltering investment and continued cuts means that this warning is perilously close to becoming a reality.
“The Government must deliver on its promises, such as those outlined in the Youth Investment Fund, and significantly re-invest in youth services right now in order to change the course of the future for thousands of anxious, isolated and vulnerable young people.
“While we appreciate that difficult decisions must be made in order to protect the financial health of the country as it recovers from the pandemic, now is the time for areas buckling under the strain of consistent underfunding to be held up and helped to rebuild in order to support their communities.
“With the right funding and strategic planning, youth services can be utilised to carefully and positively build young people’s confidence and prepare them for the future, ensuring that they are not left further behind.”
Each year YMCAs provide a safe space for 41,960 young people through their extensive youth services work, welcoming almost 20,000 young people through their 79 youth centres throughout England and Wales.
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For more information, case studies or interview requests, please contact Aimee Reilly in the YMCA England & Wales press office at firstname.lastname@example.org