Today, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Cat Smith MP, Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs announce Labour’s plans for a Statutory Youth Service alongside a new consultation.
Labour is committed to creating a quality youth service for all young people that is protected by new legislation. To deliver on this ambition, the next Labour government would mandate a national body with dedicated ring-fenced funding to oversee youth service provision across England. This national body would work with local youth partnerships in every local area to support service delivery across the country.
Labour is encouraging anyone with interest in shaping youth services to take part in a new consultation which will be led by Cat Smith MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs.
New analysis by the House of Commons Library commissioned by Labour indicates that local authority spending on universal youth services has fallen by 52% in real terms since 2012. Furthermore, research shows that under the Conservatives, over 600 youth centres have closed.
With knife crime rising by 16% in England and Wales in the last year alone, Labour is committed to reversing cuts to youth services and providing good quality youth services in every community as part of a public health approach to tackling violent crime and to help young people fulfil their potential.
This consultation is the first step in delivering youth services that support young people and prevent them from being exploited by gangs and falling into a life of crime.
Cat Smith MP, Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs said: “The Government has left youth services across the country devastated after eight years of unnecessary and unjustified austerity.
“With youth services targeted for budget cuts, the Tories have created the conditions in which crime can thrive, leaving young people vulnerable to violence and denied the opportunity to build a positive future.
“Enough is enough. Today, we are launching our consultation on a statutory youth service which outlines a bold vision of what a Labour government will achieve.
“I urge anyone who wants to improve the opportunities available to young people to get involved. Together, we will rebuild youth services to create a system that truly works for the many, not the few.”
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “As violent crime continues to rise across the country, it’s more vital than ever that we get tough on the causes of crime, as well as crime.
“The Tories’ cuts have already decimated youth services and our policing frontline. In London we are trying to plug the gap – with a new £45m Young Londoners Fund and £138m more for our police. But we can’t solve the problem alone – not when this Tory government continues to slash funding to the services young Londoners so desperately need. They are neither tough on crime, nor the causes of it.
“Labour in power will deliver a properly funded youth service that will not only help young people turn away from criminal activity, but will give them the chance to fulfil their potential.”