Time’s Running Out for Youth Services

YMCA’s ‘Out Of Service’ report in 2020 highlighted that more than 4,500 youth work jobs had been lost and 760 youth centres closed as a result of decade-long cuts to youth services, which saw funding fall by almost £1bn in England and Wales since 2010 – a real terms decline of 70%.

When revisiting analysis in 2021, YMCA found that local authority spending on youth services in 2019/20 in England was hit by a further reduction of 6% year-on-year, meaning that vital funding has now faced cuts of 73%.

Total youth service spending in deprived areas was down by nearly twice as much per head as the least deprived, with a cut of around £90 per head compared to around £50 in the most affluent areas.

The pattern is most unequal when assessing cuts to spend on targeted or specialist youth services, for vulnerable or disadvantaged young people; YMCA has witnessed cuts of up to £18 per young person in all areas. However, defying logic and increased levels of need, in the most deprived areas there have been cuts of £30 per young person.

Young people must be a priority for Covid-recovery. A national strategy is needed to secure youth services and in support of young people, over the long term. This requires a national offer for equitable access to open access services and opportunities for all young people, and targeted youth services for those who need it.

Read the full YMCA report: “Time’s Running Out – youth services under threat and lost opportunities for young people”.