Community Links Kevin Jenkins OBE is furious about youth services cuts


- Credit: Kevin Jenkins

The short sighted draconian cuts in youth services across the country, including here in Newham, has resulted in hundreds and hundreds of clubs, activities, holiday programmes and youth camps to close, leaving thousands of young people without any form of provision.

In 2010/2011 local government expenditure on youth services was £1.2 billion, by 2013/2014 expenditure had fallen by nearly £5 million to £712 million being spent on youth services.

Once the figures for 2014/2015 are available they will certainly indicate that the downward spiral continues.

As a result more and more young people, many of who are considered to be vulnerable, are back on the streets congregating on street corners, in shopping centres and parks. with nothing tangible or constructive to do. A recent survey of youth workers found that over 83 per cent reported increased levels of youth crime and anti social behaviour as a result.

Of greater concern is that the majority of remaining expenditure is being focussed on vulnerable groups of young people and the early intervention role of youth services is being lost.

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Yet the irony is the money is there. For example, nationally David Cameron’s flagship youth policy The National Citizens Service is expanding to provide 300,000 more spaces by 2020. The expansion includes a budget of over £70 million for publicity and promotion over the next four years. Imagine the services that could be put in place instead.

While I welcome all expenditure on youth services, surely the most effective way would be to reinstate universal youth prevention services, which if run correctly would provide opportunities for all young people and reduce the need for short term initiatives to fill the cracks that are resulting from inadequate funding in the first place. More from Kevin

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