Waltham Forest Council Youth Services Budget Dropped From £523,000 To Zero

There were once three council-funded sites dedicated to providing youth services to children from across Waltham Forest. Now there are none.

By Joanna and Anon, Waltham Forest · May 29, 2020

Pic: Shutterstock

Budget for youth services in Waltham Forest dropped from £523,700 in 2009/10 to zero by 14/15 and onwards.

The figures were revealed following a  Freedom of Information request submitted to Waltham Forest Council.

The Council responded, “In 2011, the Council took the decision, after extensive consultation to cease the funding for an open access, universal programme of positive activities for young people. 

Three council-owned youth centres had been the site for delivery; Pastures, Leyton Youth Centre and the Outset. 

In 2009/10, £201,400 of the total share had been allocated to Pastures, £185,000 to Leyton Youth Centre and £137,300 to Outset Centre. The Council added that the former two sites “ are now used for sports and leisure activities for the community. Outset is now an alternative provision site.”

They added that all three centres “remained open as the delivery sites for the Targeted Youth Support service that ran between 2011 and 2016. Since 2016, targeted services for adolescents have been delivered through our comprehensive Early Help service and through our holiday activities programme.

Waltham Forest Council summarised that “the centres remained open but the universal programme of positive activities ceased in mid-2011.”

Cllr Grace Williams, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “We take our responsibilities to our young people very seriously. Everything we do is aimed toward giving each of them the support, skills, and confidence they need to make the best of their life chances. Like all local authorities we have seen our budgets dramatically reduced since 2010 – in Waltham Forest alone we have made savings of £120m over this period as we continue to provide the essential services on which residents rely.

“We decided to move away from universal provision toward a targeted provision, which includes a bespoke Early Help offer and outreach programmes to prevent young people becoming involved in the gang lifestyle. Our Think Family strategy sees a “whole family” approach as the most effective way to enable every child to make the most of their potential. When we involve families in important decisions about a child’s future, we achieve better outcomes that benefit the individual, their family, and the entire community.

“In 2019 we published our life chances strategy, developed in partnership with our young people and building on our largest ever consultation with them, which focuses on four priority areas for action: ensuring every child gets the best start in life; providing a good quality education for every child; supporting young people to be resilient, confident and healthy; and giving young people the opportunities to flourish.

“We have also invested in a number of new services to further support children in Waltham Forest, including the KOOTH service to boost emotional wellbeing, our Streetbase team made up of young people who engage directly with their peers and help them find activities or support services if needed, and evidence-based interventions that show a proven record of success.

“Furthermore, we have strengthened our partnership work with schools, police, and all statutory and voluntary partners to we are all focused on the needs of young people. Examples of this include our extensive schools holiday programme and our innovative Violence Reduction Partnership.

“It is not accurate to suggest we have ceased to support young people. We remain committed to investment for our young people – but we do not believe open access universal provision is the best way to deliver this support.”