Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about youth service funding. As chair of the Youth Violence Commission, this is something I care about a great deal.
Today’s youth face new challenges, from rising levels of knife crime, mental ill health, and chronic levels of loneliness. Services that can meet these complex challenges are vital, and must nurture and empower young people to improve their own lives.
Youth centres provide safe spaces in which to learn, develop trusted relationships, build friendships and develop interpersonal skills. They should be at the heart of our communities.
But sadly, cuts in central government funding have resulted in a 73% reduction in local authorities’ spending on youth services in England between 2010/11 and 2019/20. After a decade of austerity, many parts of our country now have no recognisable youth services at all and too many young people cannot access the advice, guidance and support that youth workers once provided.
As you know, the Government has committed to a £500 million Youth Investment Fund to build new youth centres, refurbish existing youth facilities and provide high-quality services for young people across the country. While its commitment to this fund has recently been reaffirmed, I share your concern that no money has yet been allocated to youth services under this scheme.
The Government stresses that £30 million of the fund was committed at the Spending Review in November 2020 as capital investment in youth services for 2021-22, which is on top of a £750 million charity funding package. It says this will provide investment in new and refurbished spaces for young people, so they can access activities and support from youth workers.
Further details of the timetable for the funding allocation will be announced in due course, following a review of youth funding.
My Labour colleagues and I will continue to hold the Government to account over this. With young people facing immense uncertainty and insecurity at the present time, youth services and charities provide a vital lifeline across the country. It is therefore crucial that this funding is delivered as soon as possible.