Labour plans universal youth service

The Labour Party is announcing a bold vision for rebuilding youth services across the whole country, fighting back against £1 billion of cuts to services.

Named ‘Only Young Once’, the party says that the vision will end the postcode lottery for young people and introduce a new national ‘Youth Service Guarantee’, ensuring every young person has access to high quality youth work in their community regardless of their background and circumstances.

The announcement comes amid fears of rising levels of knife crime and county lines, as well as increasing incidents of mental health problems for young people across the country.

Labour has also revealed the alarming scale of  cuts to youth services, showing that public spending on youth services in England has fallen by £1 billion since 2010, a reduction of 73 per cent. Over 750 youth centres have closed their doors since 2012 and 14,500 youth and community work jobs have been lost since 2008.

The party argues that it’s youth services plan will provide all young people with extra-curricular activities to build aspiration, encourage engagement in arts and sport, enable active citizenship and provide a safe space to develop social groups, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn keen to prioritise community-based non-formal education that harnesses young people’s skills and empowers them to improve their own lives.

This will require local authorities to set up and facilitate Local Youth Partnerships to develop a diverse, universal offer for young people.

The Labour leader said: “The experiences of our youth can shape our entire future lives. Our young people should be supported in adolescence, a time that should be as full of wonder and as free from trouble as possible. With each young person we have just one chance to get it all right.

“The cuts to public services over the last decade have hit young people particularly hard. Life for young people in Britain today is far harder than it needs to be, and worse in many ways than it was for previous generations.

“We need local youth services across the whole country. We need services that can meet the complex challenges faced by young people today. We need services that will nurture and empower young people to improve their own lives.”