Laura Sharman 15 February 2022

Youth services hit by 'decade of funding failures'

Youth services hit by decade of funding failures image
Image: lex Brylov / Shutterstock.com

Spending on youth services in England has fallen by £1.1bn in the past decade, according to analysis by the YMCA.

The report shows local authorities spent £379m on youth services last year, compared to £1.48bn in 2020/11.

It also reveals a 'dramatic fall' in spend per head on 5-to-17-year-olds, which has fallen from £158 in 2010/11 to just £37 in 2020/21. In Wales, this amount has fallen from £72 to £48.

At a local authority level, seven local authorities in England did not report any expenditure on youth services to the Department for Education in the last financial year, with some spending less than £15 per 5-to-17-year-old.

There were 15 local authorities that spent more than £100 per head last year, five of which were in Wales and six in London.

Denise Hatton, chief executive of YMCA England & Wales, said: 'In addition to a decade of funding failures, young people have spent the past two years adjusting to periods of staying at home, limited social interaction, education anxieties, and a whole host of worries like no generation before. Simultaneously for the sector, the pandemic meant a shift in how youth services operated, placing significant pressure on their ability to support young people through these difficult transitions.

'All young people deserve access to the services capable of empowering them to achieve a bright future. We cannot let location dictate these opportunities, and we must no longer expect youth service providers to remain in survival mode as their funding streams continue to be squeezed, or worse still dry up entirely. Crucial and proportional investment is needed now.”

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