Half A Million Cut From Youth Services In Barking and Dagenham

Barking and Dagenham’s youth services have lost £500,000 of funding in the last six years, according to data from a Freedom of Information request.

By Christvie, 15, and Dolapo, 14 · September 23, 2019

In 2013/14, £1,238,200 was spent on youth services by the council, only for that to drop to £738,200 by 2016/17. Funding has stayed level since.

The council invested £3 million in capital into the new Future Youth Zone youth club in 2018/19, which opened earlier this year. According to Onside Youth Zones, who run the club, 4,000 young people have signed up.

The club costs 50p a visit after a £5 membership fee, which organisers suggest will cover just 10% of costs, the rest coming from a mix of private, public, and third sector funding.

What does Barking and Dagenham Council say?

A spokesperson for Barking and Dagenham Council said, “We strongly believe that provision for young people is vital for the local community. The Future Youth Zone is a fantastic space and was the first of its kind in London when it was launched in May this year. We have seen the positive effects it has had with the youth of Barking and Dagenham, with 5000 members already registered and that’s why we would love to see centres like this in other boroughs.”

While Barking and Dagenham’s funding for youth services has stabilised in the last few years, other councils are still cutting youth club funding according to a report by Green London Assembly Member and Co-Leader of the Green Party Sian Berry.

Youth clubs across London will lose another £1.2 million this year, having lost £26.3 million from 29 councils since 2011/12, representing total cuts of 46%.

In fact, Berry’s report says that Barking and Dagenham’s youth services have lost £1,548,000 since 2011/12, a cut of 68% over five years.

What does Sian Berry say?

Berry says: “Last year I hoped we had seen the lowest point possible for London’s youth services so now I am saddened to see even more funding being cut in this year’s council budgets. Why would anyone reduce support for young people right now?

“This issue means so much more than figures on a budget spreadsheet. Our young people are in crisis – they have lost places to hang out, lost trusted youth workers to help when they face problems in their lives, and lost training and mentoring to guide them to reach their fullest potential.

“Government ministers can’t keep brushing off their responsibility to young people and expect squeezed councils to manage on crumbs. They and the Mayor must step in and find new ways to fill this funding black hole.”

Why did students choose to cover this story?

Christvie, 15 and Dolapo, 14, from London, picked this project because: “We feel as though the government is neglecting our youth. There are a lot of young people involved in crimes as a result of there being not many youth clubs or extra-curricular activities for them.”