A Network of Regional Youth Work Units, in England, collaborating across regions to promote good youth work and young people’s voices.
This year Londoners will need to pay to attend the New Year’s fireworks display for the first time. Should I be shocked? It is probably not surprising in current times, the costs of any large scale public event are huge, but it does increasingly show how the expense of living in London is moving towards being prohibitive. Ten pounds for a tourist coming to London to see an amazing fireworks display is one thing, for a low income family it’s something totally different.
This cost is small change in comparison to wider ongoing discussions about the spiralling costs of houses, rental costs and increase charges for public transport, which combined mean that young Londoners face a challenging future and a number of them will be priced out of their own city.
Many people have commented on the ‘Manhattanisation’ of London and it feels like this is a roller coaster that is not stopping, the press is dominated with stories about increasing house prices.
And it is important to state that this is not all about those on very low incomes and those in receipt of benefits. The issues are also being faced by those on modest incomes i.e. those who earn below average, but not so little than they are entitled to benefits. (Across the city about 1 in 5 households fall into this category.)
Hollow Promise, a report by the Centre for London, highlights that London depends on these people, “they work hard in essential jobs. Yet with wages flatlining and costs spiralling, they are finding the capital an increasingly difficult place in which to live”. The report goes on to state that continuing to ignore the needs of this group could have severe consequences for London’s future.
In our own work, with other regional partners, we have been reviewing the provision of freely accessible services for all young people across a number of London boroughs, and the challenges that many local authorities face in trying to sustain these services in the presence of ongoing cuts and the focus towards targeted services.
Many boroughs are trying a range of creative ways to sustain what they have in place but they are also accepting that they will, as one colleague stated “be doing less with less”, others are looking at pricing models to keep their provision going.
There is no easy solution here but there does need to be a dialogue about all young people’s rights to access services before they are in desperate need, particularly looking at the issues raised by this report and others.
One of the areas we want to look at is how can independent funders, voluntary sector providers and local authorities work together to create a space where these discussions happen. Charging for services? Is this an inevitability that can no longer be avoided? Or should we be trying to work more collaboratively to look for solutions across agencies while not ignoring the need to raise the profile of the need for both universal services and also early intervention.
Creating a space for stretching our thinking and also challenging the current environment is our collective responsibility towards future generations.
Partnership for Young London