Ten years on from London riots, youth services continue to suffer

London’s young people have seen a ‘blighted generation’ after a decade of austerity has led to cuts in annual council youth service budgets of more than £36 million my latest report finds.

Published a decade after the devastating riots coincided with the start of deep cuts to council budgets, the report, London’s youth service cuts 2011-2021: a blighted generation, looks back at the effect that a 44 per cent decline in funding has had on council youth services since then.

My long-term project studying cuts to youth services started when I was first elected in 2016, and the data I have collected from councils goes back to 2011.

  • The latest findings show that in total, across the decade, over £240 million has been pulled from investment in young Londoners by councils due to reductions in budgets.
  • Consistent cuts have left vital services without resources and staff needed to help them run, with data showing that more than 600 full-time youth worker jobs have been cut by London councils, reducing the average provision from 48 youth workers to just 15.
  • Not only have jobs been severely affected, but the report also identifies a loss of more than 130 youth centres, from a starting point of nearly 300.

Read the report here: London’s youth service cuts 2011-2021: a blighted generation

The shock of devastating riots on the street of London in the summer of 2011 should have cemented with urgency, the need for proper investment in young people.

Instead, austerity policies got worse, squeezing council budgets even harder and my report highlights how we’ve lost vital youth centres and workers as a result.

The young people who first pushed me into this work are adults now, and those who were in their late teens in 2011 are nearing their thirties. A whole generation of young people have been let down.

As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, we must not forget that London’s young people are still bearing long-term losses in education, social lives, work and training opportunities.

I hope that the Mayor and Government recognise the awful situation facing youth services and the highly damaging legacy of austerity. It is vital that they step in with all the recovery funding they can find to reverse these cuts and restore services.

In the new report, I make the case for increased investment and support to prevent further negative implications on young people’s lives including education, career prospects and mental health.

I also unveil the lack of rounded support for young women, with almost a third of councils across London stating they do not provide any girl-specific services.

My recommendations also include ring-fenced funding to support girls and young women and projects in every borough that expand the horizons of women, not add to gendered expectations.