Youth services ‘repeatedly devalued’ as research shows ‘devastating cuts’
YMCA study, seen exclusively by the Mirror, highlights a ‘postcode lottery’ for funding – and claims spending cuts have left ‘youth service providers left in survival mode’
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Funding for youth services per child has fallen by £121 in a decade, research reveals today.
Analysis by the YMCA has found the average amount spent on children aged 5-17 in England has fallen from £158 in 2010/11 to just £37 in 2020/21.
The charity also discovered a ‘postcode lottery’ between neighboring councils.
The amount spent per child in Wandsworth, south-west London, in 2020/21 reached £108.25.
But next door to Merton it was just £29.77, according to the YMCA’s 16-page report, ‘Devalued’, seen exclusively by the Mirror.
Researchers found that Manchester spent £8.38 per youngster while neighboring Stockport hit £122.74.
YMCA chief executive Denise Hatton said the figures revealed “the harsh reality of a generation and a sector repeatedly devalued by devastating cuts”.
She added: “All young people deserve to have access to the services that can empower them to have a bright future.
“We cannot let location dictate these opportunities, and we should no longer expect youth service providers to remain in survival mode as their funding sources continue to be squeezed, or worse yet, completely dry up.
She urged the government to inject more money into areas “that need it most”, adding: “Critical and commensurate investments are needed now”.
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Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People’s Council, said: “Council-run youth services have a vital role to play in supporting young people.
“However, these services have seen their funding cut by more than two-thirds in real terms since 2010, meaning that limited funding for prevention work is being diverted to services aimed at protecting children who are at immediate risk of prejudice.
“Children must be at the heart of national recovery and we want to work with the government to fully invest in child and youth services, which is essential to address serious violence, to help them avoid long-term unemployment, mental health issues and being lured into criminal activity, to ensure no one is left behind.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “We recognize the importance of youth services and are investing £560million through our National Youth Guarantee to give every young person access to regular activities outside of school, adventures away from home and volunteering. Opportunities.
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“Youth services in the most deprived parts of England can apply to build or renovate their facilities through the £368m Youth Investment Fund, we are investing £171m to improve young people’s life skills through the National Citizen Service and supporting the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award program to reach every secondary school nationwide.