The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today called on the Government to urgently step-up and provide emergency funding for diversionary activities for young people in London this summer, as he warned that stark figures exposing the financial pressures facing Londoners could undo the progress that has been made in tackling violence.
Knife and gun crime, homicides and burglary have all fallen since 2016 as a result of the Mayor’s relentless focus on tackling violent crime and its underlying causes, and the hard work of police officers, London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) and youth workers across the capital. However, with the school summer holidays just days away, the Mayor is warning that there is a real risk this progress could be jeopardised by the cost of living crisis increasing poverty, deprivation and a lack of positive opportunities for young Londoners.
City Hall analysis on the causes of violence has highlighted correlations between deprivation, poverty and vulnerability to crime. Earlier this week the boss of John Lewis warned of the increasing threat of shoplifting while Barnardo’s, the national children’s charity, warned that children are at greater risk of exploitation this summer with parents and carers struggling to afford activities for young people during the holidays.
Latest polling from YouGov Plc shows:
- More than half of Londoners are ‘financially struggling’ (23 per cent) or ‘just about managing’ (31 per cent).
- Around one in 10 (10 per cent) of Londoners say they are going without essentials, such as food, electricity or gas to help manage living costs.
The Mayor is doing all he can to tackle the cost of living crisis, including providing around 10m free meals during school holidays and at weekends to low-income Londoners struggling with the spiralling cost of living this year. From September, families across the capital will benefit when up to 270,000 primary school children will receive free school meals for a year thanks to an unprecedented £135m funding from the Mayor.
Sadiq continues to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime, investing a record £1bn investment in policing since taking office, and setting up the first VRU in England and Wales in 2019 to lead an approach to tackling violence that is rooted in prevention and early intervention. The VRU is investing in opportunities for thousands of children and young people during the holidays, with activities in sport and physical activity, mentoring, community-led events and trips and support for young people as they transition from primary to secondary school.
However, the Mayor believes the level of violent crime is still far too high and is increasingly concerned about the need to support for young people in light of the cost-of-living crisis. That’s why he has today written to the Prime Minister to call for emergency funding for local authorities that is ringfenced to deliver prevention and diversionary activities for young people in greatest need this summer.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Tackling violence and building a safer city for all Londoners is my top priority, but despite the progress we have made in tackling violent crime, I have serious concerns that spiralling costs are going to push more and more people into poverty and leave young people unable to access activities and at greater risk of exploitation.
“Evidence clearly shows that these are drivers of violence, and with the cost of living continuing to hit Londoners hard it is so important that the Government urgently steps forward with emergency support for local authorities to provide positive and constructive opportunities for young people in greatest need this summer.
“I’m doing everything I can to support families and to provide access to food and to positive opportunities in the school holidays, but I can’t do it alone. Ministers must acknowledge the threat that the cost-of-living crisis is having and take action so that we can work together to tackle crime and its complex causes, and build a safer London for everyone.”