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Sadiq Khan promises £15m to tackle youth crime in London

The Guardian logo The Guardian 13/02/2018 Damien Gayle and Ana de Liz
Sadiq Khan meets with students from Evelyn Grace academy in London at the launch of the city’s knife crime strategy. © Getty Images Sadiq Khan meets with students from Evelyn Grace academy in London at the launch of the city’s knife crime strategy. The mayor of London has promised £15m a year to fund education, sport and cultural activities for the capital’s most disadvantaged young people, in an effort to divert them away from crime and violence.

Sadiq Khan announced the three-year initiative, worth a total of £45m, and condemned cuts by the government that had led to the closure of 30 youth centres, including 12,700 places for young people, since 2011.

Such services were vital to help avoid young people being “sucked into crime”, he said.

“It is sadly obvious that this government does not value London’s young people, but I am determined to invest in them – with tens of millions of pounds for activities to support them,” Khan said in a statement. 

The mayor’s office said that the new cash would be in addition to £7m already made available for anti-knife and gang-crime projects as part of the city’s knife-crime strategy. The money will come from council tax and business rates.

Two thirds of the new funding would be put into a fund from which local communities, charities and schools would be invited to bid for cash, while the remaining third will boost existing youth projects already funded by City Hall.

Shelagh O’Connor, director of the New Horizon youth centre, welcomed the new investment in youth centres after five years of cuts to community projects.

“You can never say it’s enough, but £15m per year could really make a difference. The injection of funds could go a long way to prevent young people from ending in crime or homelessness.” 

More apprenticeship schemes would be welcomed as well, “but these need to be with a reasonable pay”, she added.

Under 21s are not entitled to the London living wage, only the minimum wage, so it can be hard for youths to balance transport to their apprenticeships and other living costs.

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