Council spending on young people’s services drops 18%

7 Mar 19

Local authority spending on services for young people in England has dropped by 18% over the last four years, figures have shown.

Spending on discretionary youth services and leisure-time activities for young people has fallen by a total of £90m since 2014-15, according to data collected by CIPFA on councils for the government and released to PF today.

Cuts to services which provide early intervention for vulnerable young people at risk of teenage pregnancy, substances misuse, youth crime, are further evidence that government must address the “dire funding situation” in local government, CIPFA said.

Rob Whiteman, chief executive of CIPFA, stated: “These services provided by local authorities are at the heart of many communities, and extend beyond those which are ring fenced or considered statutory.

“It is without question that the loss of these services, such as community centres, parks, and afterschool programmes has an effect on our youth.

“Much like libraries, the statutory role of local authorities to provide youth services is unclear, labelled simply as a ‘duty to secure access to positive activities’”.

Spending on services for young people in England since 2014:

  • 2014-15 - £511.0 million
  • 2015-16 - £521.7 million
  • 2016-17 - £463.9 million
  • 2017-18 - £420.9 million

Graham Atkins, researcher at the Institute for Government think-tank, told PF “it certainly fits into a wider pattern of prioritising acute need over preventative services”.

He suggested that cuts to spending on services for young people leads to increased demand on acute, statutory social care like child protection. 

The data comes as the UK’s most senior police officer Cressida Dick claimed that there is a link between falling police numbers and rising levels of knife crime.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the year ending March 2018 saw the highest level of knife crime in England and Wales in eight years, with 40,000 incidents.


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