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Campaigner calls for re-funded youth service at party Conference

March 27, 2021 5:01 PM

A Liberal Democrat campaigner from Barwell has called for the government to adequately fund the youth service, after a decade of cuts.

Mathew Hulbert made the call in a speech to the party's national Spring Conference which was held online due to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

Mr Hulbert, who is the co-author of the party's policy on the youth service, participated in a debate on education.

In the speech to fellow party members he said, "National spending on youth services by local authorities has fallen from £1.4billion to £429million (since 2010.)

"As a result, more than seven hundred youth clubs have closed and more than 4,500 youth work jobs have been lost.

"This is devastating for so many young people, especially those who are vulnerable or marginalised, who rely on the emotional and practical advice, support and guidance professional youth workers can and do provide when given adequate resources to do so."

He continued, "Youth Workers, whether detached, targeted or providing universal provision, can help young people going through a range of different issues or problems; be it at home, at school or college, in relationships, in finding work, with their mental health and so on.

"We can't and indeed we shouldn't expect schools to do all of this on top of everything else they already do.

"The youth service, when properly nurtured and financed, is perfectly placed to do this vitally important work."

Speaking later Mr Hulbert said, "It was once again a privilege to be able to raise this issue at my party's national Conference.

"The Tories, in their 2019 general election manifesto, pledged to plough hundreds of millions of pounds into the youth service. But now, we're hearing they may renege on that pledge using the pandemic as political cover.

"That would be an unforgivable betrayal of our young people.

"We Liberal Democrats will hold Ministers' feet to the fire on this until they meet the financial commitment they made."