Mason Moore | Hinckley Reporter | 29 March 2021
A BARWELL-BASED Liberal Democrat campaigner is calling on the Government to ‘adequately fund’ the youth service, following a decade of cuts.
Mathew Hulbert appeared virtually at the national Spring Liberal Democrat party conference via video conferencing service, Zoom, as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions, where he made a speech to his fellow party members.
From the years of 2011 to 2015, when elected to Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, he was their ‘Children and Young People’s Champion’.
This isn’t the first time that Mathew has raised the issue.
He made the call for the youth service to be refunded again back in November 2020, following Youth Work Week, where the theme was ‘Being Ambitious for Youth Work’.
He explained how national spending on the youth service by local authorities across the UK had plummeted and that he believes that this has been ‘devastating’ for young people.
Hulbert challenged the Tories, who stated that they would pledge to ‘plough hundreds of millions’ into the youth service, but he believes that the ongoing issues surrounding the coronavirus pandemic are being used as a ‘political cover’ to avoid their pledge.
In his contribution to the party conference, he said: “National spending on youth services by local authorities has fallen from £1.4 billion to £429 million, 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 further added: “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 to the Hinckley Free Press, he 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.”