21 February 2022

Research released by YMCA Newcastle reveals that not only have funding cuts now reached £1.1bn (a real-terms fall of 74% since 2010/11) but annual spend per head on 5-to-17-year-olds in England has plummeted from £158 in 2010/11 to just £37 in 2020/21.

Investigating real-terms local authority spending on youth services, YMCA Newcastle found that a decade ago, money spent per 5-to-17-year-old in Wales was £72 – less than half the amount in England (£158) at the time. Today the spend per-head in Wales (£48) is 30% higher than in England (£37).

Looking at local authority spend per head, YMCA Newcastle found that spending per-head has reduced by 90% since 2010.

Jeff Hurst, Chief Executive of YMCA Newcastle, said:

“As the longest provider of youth services in England and Wales, YMCA has tracked the real-terms decline in youth services funding over the past several years. However, these latest figures from 2020/21 are especially significant in not only highlighting the localised fallout of a new global crisis, but also the harsh reality of a generation and sector repeatedly devalued by devastating cuts.

“In addition to a decade of funding failures, young people have spent the past two years adjusting to periods of staying at home, limited social interaction, education anxieties, and a whole host of worries like no generation before. Simultaneously for the sector, the pandemic meant a shift in how youth services operated, placing significant pressure on their ability to support young people through these difficult transitions.

“All young people deserve access to the services capable of empowering them to achieve a bright future. We cannot let location dictate these opportunities, and we must no longer expect youth service providers to remain in survival mode as their funding streams continue to be squeezed, or worse still dry up entirely. Crucial and proportional investment is needed now.”

As the Government releases the first £10m of its long-awaited £500m Youth Investment Fund (YIF), YMCA is urging them to unlock further finance for areas in most critical need, thereby breathing new life into this vital sector through targeted programmes, universal youth services and experienced youth workers across England and Wales.

Each year YMCA Newcastle supports over 1,500 members of our community and its young people.

To view the whole report, download here.