Figures uncovered by YMCA reveal the true extent of cuts to youth services funding by local authorities in England and Wales since 2010, with an allocation of just under £429m in 2018/19, compared to £1.4bn in 2010/11 – a real terms decline of 70%.
Discovered as part of a report into local authority expenditure on youth services in 2018/19, these latest figures add to almost a decade of devastating cuts as spending reaches its lowest point in a generation.
The report emphasises England as most severely affected with a further loss of nearly £26m (6%) identified in the past year alone, delivering a damaging blow to already strained resources.
Every region of England has each seen funding for youth services cut by more than 60% since 2010, with some of the most severely affected experiencing average area cuts of as much as 74% in the North West, 76% in the North East, and 80% in the West Midlands.
Further breakdown locally reveals funding deficits of more than 90% in areas such as Gateshead, Nottingham and Norfolk, with a complete loss of funding for youth services uncovered in Trafford, Medway, Luton and Slough.
With a decline of 38%, cuts in Wales have been less acute than in England, however vital funding for youth services has still reduced by £19m since 2010, with significant and persistent loss evident each year. Young people in Mid Wales have faced the biggest cuts as a region with funding more than halved (58%) compared to 2010, while Cardiff has suffered the most severe decline of 64%.
Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England & Wales, said:
“Youth services exist to provide a sense of belonging, a safe space, and the opportunity for young people to enjoy being young. However, for almost a decade now local authorities have struggled under the weight of funding pressures, meaning youth services are being forced to endure continued and damaging cuts.
“No part of society could be expected to suffer almost a billion-pounds worth of real term cuts and for there to be no consequences across our communities. However, young people’s needs continue to be brushed aside by decision makers as unworthy of support.
“The reality behind these figures is that since 2010 more than 4,500 youth work jobs have been cut and 760 youth centres have closed. We believe this is unacceptable. Without drastic action to protect funding and significantly re-invest in youth services, we are condemning young people to become a lonely, lost generation with nowhere to turn.”
The findings from this research are set out in the Out of Service report
The day-to-day impact of youth services often goes unnoticed by the public, but the consequences of these cuts cannot be underestimated. Cases of knife crime, mental health difficulties and isolation among young people continue to rise, while the number of services available to positively intervene and prevent such cases continue to decline.
Each year YMCA supports more than 33,500 young people through our youth work, with almost 8,000 participants involved in crime prevention and avoidance programmes.
In response to such overwhelming funding cuts, YMCA is asking the public to show their support in making young people the central focus of government action. By reinstating youth services funding to 2010/11 real term levels and introducing a national youth services strategy, government would enable local authorities to deliver necessary youth services locally and support their communities.
YMCA ask the public to show their commitment by signing this petition and raising the issue of youth services with their local MP. Together, we can ensure that the services, which provide a sense of belonging and keep young people safe, do not become a thing of the past.