Photograph by Chris King

News from Siân Berry: London’s youth service funding black hole is getting worse

22 March 2019

London’s youth service funding black hole is getting worse

Another round of council cuts is set to devastate services for young people in London, with more than £1 million of cuts planned for the 2019-20 financial year, revealed in new research by Green London Assembly Member, Sian Berry. [1]

Building on the body of research she has been working on since 2016, Sian’s latest report, London’s lost youth services 2019, shows a growing black hole in council support for youth work: 

  • Since the 2011-12 financial year, cuts have removed 46 per cent of funding from London council youth services
  • Youth centres have closed across the city, with 104 centres and projects shutting their doors
  • Youth worker jobs have declined by 562. 

Sian Berry is asking the Mayor and the Government to step in with more funding to restore budgets to pre-austerity levels. Currently, at least £35 million less per year is being spent on council youth services in London compared with 2011-12.

Despite the pace of cuts slowing in recent years, a steep new round of cuts is coming, with £1.2 million set to be removed from budgets across London in 2019-20 compared with 2018-19.

Sian Berry says:

Last year I hoped we had seen the lowest point possible for London’s youth services so now I am saddened to see even more funding being cut in this year’s council budgets. Why would anyone reduce support for young people right now?

This issue means so much more than figures on a budget spreadsheet. Our young people are in crisis – they have lost places to hang out, lost trusted youth workers to help when they face problems in their lives, and lost training and mentoring to guide them to reach their fullest potential.

Government ministers can’t keep brushing off their responsibility to young people and expect squeezed councils to manage on crumbs. They and the Mayor must step in and find new ways to fill this funding black hole.


Sian Berry 2019 Youth Services report image


The steepest cuts planned in London this year are in Kensington and Chelsea (-£1.1 million) and Greenwich (£488,000). A small number of councils are increasing funding, with Newham adding £603,000 to its youth budget this year. 

After Sian’s work highlighting the devastating cuts to council youth services, last year the Mayor pledged £45m over three years in grants to youth projects via a new Young Londoners Fund, but this is set to end in 2020-21.[2]

Sian is asking the Mayor to boost his Young Londoners Fund and extend it into future years, making it a permanent part of the City Hall budget, and she is asking the Government to step in and help councils to restore all the services that have been lost since 2011.

Notes to editors

Sian Berry is available for interview

1. The report, London’s lost youth services 2019, is available here, with details of funding cuts for each council, obtained via freedom of information requests, and more details of cuts to youth clubs and youth worker posts:

2. Mayor heeds Sian Berry’s call for investment in youth services. Sian Berry AM, Feb 2018

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