Youth justice funding uncertainty

Youth justice grants, which fund the vital work of youth offending teams (YOTs) within councils, have been halved from £145 million in 2010/11 to £71.5 million in 2018/19.

As first was going to press, councils were waiting to find out their youth justice grant allocations for 2019/20, despite already having had to set their overall annual budgets.

Until councils know how much funding they will receive, it makes planning services to support young people and help keep them out of the youth justice system extremely difficult. With the recent surge in knife violence among young people, the LGA says funding should be, at the very least, maintained at last year’s level.

YOTs have achieved huge success in working with and supporting young people to prevent them getting involved in youth crime, with an 86 per cent drop in first-time entrants to the youth justice system and a 78 per cent drop in arrests over the last decade.

The number of youth cautions handed out dropped by more than 100,000, or 91 per cent, in the same period.

The large reduction in YOTs funding has meant councils have had to make up the shortfall from their own budgets, which are already overstretched and under growing pressure.

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Youth offending teams within local authorities have an outstanding record of reducing youth crime and making a real difference to young people’s lives, but they are under huge pressure after seeing their government funding halved.

“We share the Government’s determination to tackle youth crime, but it needs to fund properly the services that work most closely with young people at risk of offending.”

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