House of Lords Library

Funding of Public Services for Young Adults

Published Thursday, July 11, 2019

This House of Lords Library Briefing has been prepared in advance of the debate due to take place on 18 July 2019 in the House of Lords on the motion moved by Baroness Massey of Darwen (Labour) to move “that this House takes note of the impact of, and response to, the funding levels of public services that interact with young adults”.

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Due to the wide range of public services that interact with young people, this briefing is split into two parts: the first section looks at some of the services provided by local authorities; and the second section summarises spending on young people more generally, including lists of further reading material focused on health and education spending. 

Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide services and activities in their area for those aged 13–19 (or up to 24-years old in the case of young adults with a learning difficulty or disability). However, local authorities are required to take the lead on how to provide these services and on how they should be funded. Evidence from the Local Government Association (LGA) and other bodies has indicated reduced funding for youth services, youth offending teams and children’s care services over recent years due to budgetary pressures. The LGA stated that local authorities were having to divert money to only the most vulnerable children and that, even after doing so, authorities were experiencing funding gaps.  

The Government has stated that it is reviewing the provision of youth services and is developing a youth charter to set out a vision for the next generations of children. It also highlighted other investment targeted at young people, including the National Citizen Service. 

Considering spend on children more generally, a report by the Children’s Commissioner, using analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, estimated that:  

  • in 2017/18, overall spend (excluding healthcare) per young person aged under-18 was £10,000, which was about 10% lower than its high in 2010–11; 
  • spend per pupil was £4,800 in primary schools and £6,200 in secondary schools—a similar level to 2010; and 
  • in 2015–16, healthcare spend was around £800 per child (due to issues analysing NHS data, the report was unable to provide a comparison with earlier years for this figure). 

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