For many young people, their local youth club is the only safe space where they can go to get the support they need. However, after eight years of austerity, many parts of the country now have no recognisable youth services at all.
Research by Unite the Union has shown that from 2012 to 2016, 600 youth centres have closed across the country. For many young people, the youth club is their only safe space that keeps them from falling into crime or getting involved with gangs.
In Barking and Dagenham youth services have decreased 66.7% from 2011 to 2017. In Havering, youth services have decreased 75.7% in the same period. In 2016 Unison asked youth workers about the impact youth service cuts had on their lives, and 83 per cent said that the cut in youth services were having an effect on crime and antisocial behavior.
The Labour Party is committed to ensuring that every young person has the opportunity to succeed, which is why today they announced a bold new vision for youth services. New legislation has been tabled that would require every local authority across England to provide a minimum level of support for young people.
Currently, the Education and Inspections Act of 2006 places a statutory duty on local authorities to secure sufficient access to positive activities for young people, as well as seeking and taking account of their views in the development of services. However, under this act the funding of youth services is not mandatory, which has led to local authorities making significant cuts to youth services.
Cat Smith MP, Labour Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, is leading a consultation to develop final proposals on this legislation. The consultation is focused around key themes including youth voice, and service delivery. The closing date is Monday 12 November 2018.
You can share your ideas here: https://www.policyforum.labour.org.uk/commissions/education/youth-services.
Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham commented: "The cuts in youth services have risen dramatically over the past five years. We can no longer sit back and allow the government to fail our young people. Together, we will rebuild youth services to create a system that truly works for the residents of Dagenham and Rainham. I am encouraging my constituents to take part in the consultation to help give the local youths the support they need."