Youth clubs suffer as council cuts force their closure

Young people boxing North Ormesby's youth club has been hit by funding cuts which could see it shut

New figures obtained by the Politics Show suggest our councils have significantly cut the amount they spend on youth services.

That's hardly surprising given the funding cuts local authorities have had over the last year.

But there is concern that young people are bearing more than their fair share of those cuts.

In Middlesbrough, the council is consulting on the possible closure of five youth and community centres.

North Ormesby is one of those under threat.

The staff there, and the young people who use the centre, are outraged at the plan.

Spending cuts

The children the Politics Show spoke to at the club believe there will be little left for them to do if it shuts.

They expect more of them will end up on the street, and in trouble.

Sam Scott Sam Scott runs a youth club which is surviving largely on donations rather than council funding

The council says it has little choice though because of the need to find £14m of savings.

And a survey by the trade union Unite suggests many councils are already spending less on youth clubs.

The research compared council spending on youth services for every 13 to 19 year old last year to the projected spend this year.

In Sunderland the figure had dropped from £118 to £91; in Northumberland it had been cut from £49 to £36.

Darlington saw a reduction from £98 to £69 per head and Cumbria saw a cut from £166 to £135.

And even before the latest cuts Middlesbrough Council had cut its spending from £260 per teenager last year to £221 this year.

Start Quote

If we can do it, I can't see why other youth clubs can't follow the same path”

End Quote Sam Scott Easterside Youth Club

But might there be another way of replacing that spending?

Another club in the Easterside area of Middlesbrough is still going despite receiving little in the way of public funding.

Instead, it survives through a combination of donations from the public and business.

Sam Scott, who runs the club, said: "Everyone's come forward and donated what they can whether it be money, cheques, even trips out and things like that.

"If we can do it, I can't see why other youth clubs can't follow the same path."

More investment

That's something the government is keen to see more of.

Ministers also point to their National Citizens' Service for 16-year-olds as another investment they are making in alternatives for young people.

Petition A petition has been started to try and stop the closure of North Ormesby youth and community centre

It provides six week placements for teenagers.

But Unite says that service is in danger of moving millions of pounds away from traditional youth services.

Mike Routledge, the union's regional officer, said: "There is a concern that money will be diverted from projects which are working well at the moment, to try and give young people six weeks of contact when at the moment they have got that contact all year round."

The protest on youth service cuts will go to Westminster on 25 October when young people and staff gather to lobby MPs.

The Politics Show will be debating what impact the cuts are having on young people on BBC One at 12pm on 23 October.

Richard Moss Article written by Richard Moss Richard Moss Political editor, North East & Cumbria

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  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Thanks for your comments so far. A really interesting debate.

    One other point that the Unite survey illustrates is that there is a vast variation in council support for youth services, so whereas Middlesbrough is cutting back, it'll still be spending far more than somewhere like Northumberland.

    Is that just local variation, or does it say something about the priority of different councils?

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Youth services often run on very small budgets The ammount spent per head keeping even one young person out of crime and the criminal justice system or away from a lifetime of drug dependancy, is tiny compared to the cost to our society financially and in other ways of that young person entering the criminal justice system. Our Govts cuts will actualy cost the nation more in the long term!

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    I am amazed at the lack of interest shown by the few comments on this topic, though it should come as no suprise as this subject is of no interest to the middle class chattering classes who would'nt know the value of these fantastic institutions as for councillors in general there will be very little in the reduction of their frivolous spending on civic occasions a dinner here or a dinner there

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Sadly, many are losers in the terrible situation the country finds itself in. Unsustainable spending was the issue. Government spending £4 when raising £3 in revenue just could not go on. Bus services have gone, libraries have closed, old folks homes have gone. I do wonder how much pain councillors have taken with regard to their tax-free allowances though? Anyone care to answer?

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I thought "third sector" meant not run by either taxpayers or profit making companies so I don't understand the comment that third sector youth clubs cannot find enough donations to run their provision now. The club in Easterside may not be run by a big charity but it surely is third sector, isn't it? Local people have gone out and done something for their area, proving once again it can be done.


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