Councils have a statutory duty to “secure, so far as is reasonably practicable, sufficient provision of educational and recreational leisure-time activities for young people” and to make sure young people have a say in the local offer. This is often referred to as the ’youth services duty’.
However, local government faces a huge challenge in providing youth services. Due to cuts to funding from central government and an increase in demand for child protection services, councils have had to divert increasingly scarce resources away from early help like youth services, and into services for children at immediate risk of harm.
Even so, councils were forced to overspend on their children’s services budgets by £605 million across England in 2015/16, and councils will face a funding gap of £3.1 billion by 2025.
Local authorities have responded in different ways, such as looking into different models (like youth mutuals), integrating youth services with other support for young people and their families, and by targeting limited resources towards more vulnerable groups.
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