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25th Jun, 2022

Warwickshire youth service cut by some 84% since 2010 claim YMCA figures

CUTS to youth services budgets in the county have been condemned by Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western.

New data from the YMCA has revealed Warwickshire youth service budgets have been cut by 84 per cent since 2010.

This includes funding for youth clubs, outreach teams and after-school education.

It shows £24 is spent per five to 17-year-old by Warwickshire County Council as of 2020/21.

This means it ranks 134th out of 167 council areas in England and Wales for expenditure.

Mr Western believes it is evident Warwickshire’s young people are being left behind.

He said: “It is hardly surprising that this past decade has seen such a massive increase in youth violence and anti-social behaviour. The public are rightly angry in rising crime rates and are particularly concerned by the increase in knife crime.

“There are now virtually no services to speak of across the county and the few that are still operating are really struggling given the challenges they face.

“The truth is that successive Conservative and Liberal Democrat governments have slashed funding to councils and those councils, in turn, have slashed budgets for vital youth services – which give disadvantaged children a start in life, and help keep them off the streets.

“And it turns out, some councils are worse than others – with Warwickshire’s among the worst funded youth services across the country.”

He added the services allowed youth to engage in sports and arts activities and ‘find their voice’.

He accused the council of allowing young people to ‘go without’.

The YMCA is the largest provider of youth services in England and Wales, offering a safe space for nearly 42,000 young people across 79 youth centres.

Youth provision budgets administered by county, city and metropolitan borough councils across England and Wales pay for youth clubs, community centres, after-school education, mental health support, outreach and activities.

YMCA chief executive Denise Hatton said: “The figures from 2020/21 are especially significant in not only highlighting the localised fallout of a new global crisis, but also the harsh reality of a generation and sector repeatedly devalued by devastating cuts.

“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.

“All young people deserve access to the services capable of empowering them to achieve a bright future. Crucial and proportional investment is needed now.”

Despite the low figures, a spokesperson for Warwickshire County Council assured the council had invested in Targeted Youth Services over the last three years, doubling the overall budget for Targeted Youth Services in 2020/21, and establishing a £1million Youth Fund to support community and voluntary organisations.

It was also agreed, at full council earlier this month, to provide further funding in the next financial year, bringing the total budget for Targeted Youth Services for to £2.4million.

The spokesperson added: “The county council has also adopted new ways of working which have, so far in 2021/22, supported over 7,500 children and young people by providing contact with the county council Targeted Youth Workers through outreach work in communities and 1,300 children have received one-to-one support from a youth worker.”

 

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