Corbyn pledges 'compulsory' youth services

By Derren Hayes

| 19 August 2019

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has identified the introduction of a compulsory youth service as key to tackling violent crime affecting young people.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it would 'compulsory' for councils to provide youth services

In a major speech on his priorities, Corbyn said a future Labour government would make it compulsory for local authorities to deliver youth services.

The Labour leader said cuts to public sector spending that had seen the closure of youth centres, and inadequate funding for mental health support and community services, were key factors in rising levels of violent crime.

Recruiting more police and expanding the use of stop-and-search powers were not enough to tackle the problem, he added.

"What the Tories won't address is the much wider impact of austerity; the closed youth services; under-resourced mental healthcare; and the lack of funding for community mentoring," Corbyn said.

"We take youth services so seriously that we will make it compulsory for local government to deliver them.

"And we know the direct impact that rhetoric around immigration, crime, and stop and search can have on the lives of those from minority communities.

"Labour will rebuild our public services because we understand they are the glue that binds society together."

In May, Labour's shadow youth affairs minister Cat Smith said the party would introduce new measures to ensure young people could access youth provision in every area.

It is also a pledge Corbyn made in 2015 when running for the Labour leadership.

Despite existing legislation requiring councils to ensure they provide "sufficient provision", more than 600 youth clubs have been shut and 2,300 youth work posts scrapped this decade.

Since 2010, the amount councils spend on youth services has halved.

In July, the government launched a review of council youth services guidance. Also last month, a cross-party group of MPs called for the introduction of a "youth service guarantee" to support investment in areas affected by youth violence.

Corbyn also reiterated Labour's pledge to create a National Education Service "providing free learning from the cradle to the grave, including free school meals for all primary children, smaller class sizes for five-, six- and seven-year-olds, and no tuition fees at university or college".

In addition, he said the party would introduce a real living wage of £10 an hour, "including for young people who deserve equal pay for equal work".

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