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Youth funding slashed 71 per cent since 2010 by council
FUNDING for youth centres has been slashed 71 per cent in Worcestershire - leading to angry claims youngsters are "being failed".
It means the number of centres have fallen from 20 to just 12, a record low in the county.
Council chiefs say the money that is still available helps fund 53 different organisations, and point to volunteers and other providers for filling some of the gap left behind.
But critics say the reductions have left more young people twiddling their thumbs, and claim families are losing out more than most due to the budget cuts.
Councillor Peter McDonald, opposition Labour group leader at County Hall, said: "Young people are so important to the future of this county.
"It's absolutely outrageous and deplorable that this has been allowed to happen."
He said the council is "letting people down" and wants some of the funding restored.
The Conservative leadership at the council says it decided some time ago to "no longer directly fund youth facilities" as a strategic decision.
Instead, the focus is on using the £1 million to support outside projects which reach the most people.
Councillor Liz Eyre, cabinet member for children and families, said: "Young people are an important group who need a great deal of support.
"I'm pleased that actually, the funding we do have has gone out of buildings and into actual activities.
"I've been consistent on this all along, and I'd rather have money spent on people than buildings - that £1 million supports 9,000 young people.
"I realise there is more work to do with partner organisations that support young people but do I think we're letting anyone down? No I don't.
"We've not got something which is sustainable, and it's making a difference."
The Tory leadership is slashing around £100 million from spending by 2019 and intends to commission out 85 per cent of services.