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Re-thinking local: youth services

We continue to believe that councils are best placed to set out the vision and direction for youth provision in their area.

a banner with diagonal stripes in different shades of purple and a round purple icon of a young boy and girl in the foreground

Impact of COVID-19 on young people and youth services

For children and young people, who are still in the process of learning to navigate the world, the experience and impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been very different to that of adults.

So far, while many have reported enjoying at least some of lockdown thanks to feeling happy at home and trying new activities and ways of learning (pdf), surveys also highlight a lot of worry about the future. In particular, various reports highlight increasing mental health and wellbeing issues, while issues around future employment opportunities were also key, including for care-experienced young people (pdf).


of the more than 1500 respondents to a Beatfreeks national youth trends report on the impact of coronavirus on young people, said that COVID-19 has left them unsure about their futures.

Prior to the pandemic, youth services were hit hard by austerity measures,

Funding to youth services by local authorities in England and Wales saw a real terms decline of 70 per cent between 2010/11 and 2018/19

Since 2010/11, youth services such as youth clubs and youth workers have been cut by 69 per cent. More than 4,500 youth work jobs have been cut and 750 youth centres closed. 


of youth organisations faces closure as a result of COVID-19, while 88 per cent anticipate reducing services for young people.

What is next?

We continue to believe that councils are best placed to set out the vision and direction for youth provision in their area - enabling all young people to enjoy their lives, reach their full potential and make a good transition to adulthood. Councils may not be in a position to directly deliver or commission all youth provision, however their ability to oversee and coordinate is invaluable.

Qualified youth workers and their colleagues across the youth sector will have vital roles to play in the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Youth services give young people safe spaces to go and trusted relationships with adults that can be the difference between being supported to make positive choices (including knowing where to go for help when it’s needed) and being drawn into negative situations.

Youth workers are likely to have a particular role to play in supporting young people to return to school and helping those young people who struggle to find employment. With young people more likely to experience difficulties in finding employment as the country recovers from the pandemic, supporting them to pursue positive paths through this difficult time will be key to avoiding negative outcomes such as long-term unemployment (pdf), mental and physical health difficulties or criminal activity further down the line.

National Youth Guarantee

In February 2022, the Government announced the National Youth Guarantee which brought together the previously announced Youth Investment Fund (YIF) at £387m, the funding for the National Citizen Service at £171m and funding for uniformed groups to give access to regular out of school activities, adventures away from home and opportunities to volunteer for every young person in England up to 2025. This is in response to the youth review conducted by the government in 2021. This funding will be predominantly directed to capital investment, and we are waiting to hear how and when it’ll be rolled out.

Coordinating and developing a local youth offer: resources for councils

The below set of documents have been published by the LGA over the last 18 months and are now collated here to support local areas to improve their youth services offers. We hope that councils will find these publications helpful in coordinating and developing their local youth offers, making sure that young people are able to access the services that they want and need to enjoy their lives, reach their full potential and make a good transition to adulthood.

Vision for Youth Services

The LGA's ambition and aspirations for local youth services to give every young person the bright future they deserve.

Developing an effective youth offer (pdf)

This research by the Isos Partnership identifies six key enablers of an effective local youth offer. The research drew on the experiences of councils with a range of delivery models to identify those enablers that were common across all.

The key enablers of an effective partnership-based early help offer (pdf)

This research, based on in-depth engagement with eight local areas, considers how local areas have constructed effective early help offers over time, including the key enablers supporting creation of the offer and how future challenges are being addressed.

A guide to commissioning outcomes for young people (pdf)

This guide, developed by the National Youth Agency with support from the LGA, supports councils to involve young people in commissioning processes and consider how best to achieve the outcomes that young people need.

Framework of Outcomes for Young People

We commissioned the Centre for Youth Impact to develop an outcomes framework to help organisations and agencies across the youth sector to develop mutual aims for work with and for young people in their areas. This framework can be used in conjunction with the National Youth Agency guide to commissioning outcomes for young people.