Assembly Member, Sian Berry, outside of the Grove Park Youth Centre

News from Sian Berry: Mayor must help people left behind by ‘London’s lost youth services'

16 January 2017

London council youth services have lost a third of staff and £22 million in funding cuts since 2011 as councils struggle to cope with squeezed budgets, a new report from Green London Assembly Member Sian Berry has revealed. [1]

Sian Berry will be calling on the Mayor, at tomorrow’s MQT, [2] to help prevent further cuts by expanding the London Crime Prevention Fund. This was recently renewed for four years, but only at the same level of funding as under the previous Mayor. [3]

The report shows the average council has cut youth services funding by nearly £1 million since 2011, and plans are in place to reduce 2017/18 budgets by another 25 per cent on average.

Sian Berry said:

Government cuts have hit all London councils hard, and youth services have been put on the chopping block across our city as a result.

The impact of these cuts could be devastating. Good quality youth services help prevent young people from falling into crime and also make them less vulnerable to the exploitation of groups like gangs.

The Mayor does fund some initiatives targeted at knife and gang crime, but many of these also depend on general youth services being available once young people decide to make changes to their lives.

The Mayor should be helping councils as part of his Police and Crime Plan. Saving youth centres and youth workers would genuinely help to improve young people’s lives and achieve his goal of real crime prevention. 

Sian’s report, ‘London’s lost youth services’, is based on a freedom of information request to borough councils. It reveals that youth services, which are non-statutory and not protected from austerity cuts, have been cut back dramatically in the past five years.

 

Between 2011/12 and 2016/17:

  • Across London more than £22 million was cut from youth services budgets.
  • The average council in London has cut its youth service budget by nearly £1 million – an average of 36 per cent.
  • More than 30 youth centres have been closed.
  • At least 12,700 places for young people have been lost.
  • Council youth service employment has been reduced on average by 39 per cent – from 738 full-time equivalent staff across 20 councils to 452 in 2016/17.
  • Funding to voluntary sector youth work has also gone down – by an average of 35 per cent in councils that were able to provide data.

Half of the ten councils that provided information about future budgets were planning to make further cuts in 2017/18. On average 25 per cent of budgets would be cut from April, with the loss of at least three more youth centres and 24 more staff.

The London Crime Prevention Fund began in 2013 with £72 million (£18 million per year, but including only around £3 million per year for youth work) assigned to local councils. The LCPF has recently been renewed by the Mayor, and will provide a further £18 million to support crime prevention in each of the next four years.

On 13 January, Sian visited Grove Park Youth Club in Brockley. This purpose-built 50-year-old facility was closed in 2013 by Lewisham Council as part of budget cuts, and photos from the visit are available.

The local community has recently formed a charity aimed at taking over and reopening the club. More about the history of this youth centre and the campaign to save it can be found on the Grove Park website.

Notes to editors

[1] London’s lost youth services, Sian Berry AM, January 2017 https://www.london.gov.uk/about-us/london-assembly/assembly-members/publ...

[2] Sian’s question to the Mayor, January 18 2017, “Will your Police and Crime Plan build upon current crime prevention funding to help mitigate the effects of cuts to youth services across London?”
http://questions.london.gov.uk/QuestionSearch/searchclient/questions/que...

[3] Mayor safeguards £72m to tackle crime across all of London's boroughs, 13 December 2016 https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/mayor-tackles-crime-across-londons-boroughs