Young Londoners hit by summer youth service postcode lottery

My new data shows that funding for youth summer programmes has been cut by 17 per cent since 2013 and remaining services vary massively between boroughs.

Summer holiday youth programmes are provided by councils for young people to attend over the six week holiday. However, new data I’ve obtained from London councils shows that at least £150,000 has been removed from summer holiday youth programme budgets since 2013/14.

The cuts mean a 17 per cent drop in funding over five years. Although this is less than the 36 per cent overall cuts to council youth service budgets in London, exposed in my recent research, this is still a major loss of funding for young people when they most need support.

This year, councils are only spending an average of £72,000 each on summer holiday youth service budgets.

My new findings show:

  • Bromley and Greenwich council have reduced budgets by the largest amount in cash terms – both have cut around £85,000 from summer youth programmes since 2013/14
  • The highest percentage cuts were by Ealing (80 per cent) and Bromley (78 per cent). In Ealing, this is greater than the overall cut to universal youth budgets. Earlier research showed that Ealing has cut 50 per cent of youth service funding since 2011/12.
  • In contrast, some councils have increased summer youth funding in recent years. Haringey has increased support by £95,000 and Merton has added £18,000 since 2013/14.

The cuts have made the postcode lottery faced by young people this summer worse, with big differences between what is on offer from each borough that could answer my questions.

See my map here, showing the data I’ve collected and how budgets vary hugely between boroughs.

The best funded summer youth programme is in Greenwich, with £242,400 being spent. In contrast, total spending in Havering is just £4,000, and Ealing is now spending just £7,100 a year since cuts in 2014/15.

Now more than ever, young people in London need good quality summer holiday activities. Getting access to positive opportunities and inspiring places to go over the summer shouldn’t be a postcode lottery for young people.

These activities do not cost a huge amount. I know councils are cash strapped but young people should be a priority for every borough – not just the handful that have put extra funding in. The councils that have cut back on summer programmes need to look at the potential harm they are doing and think again.

The Mayor has put some extra funding into summer holiday youth programmes this year which will help, but councils need to play their part too.

Summer youth funding cuts chart