photo Lewis Clarke/CC
photo Lewis Clarke/CC

Ellen Kenyon-Peers, Waltham Forest Socialist Party

Anti-social behaviour rose by nearly 30% between 2015 and 2020. But Tory prime minister Rishi Sunak’s new ‘crime plan’ fails to deal with the real causes, which have been worsened by a decade of Tory austerity.

Real-terms cuts to youth services since 2010 have now reached an appalling 74%. The annual spend per head on 5-17 year olds has been slashed from £158 to just £37.

Almost half of youth centres have closed in the last decade. And no work has been done to restore the 4,500 youth work jobs that were cut during the pandemic.

The UK has a housing deficit of 4.3 million homes. This pushes many more people into crowded and unsafe living conditions and, in an increasing number of cases, homelessness. Over 20% of the homeless population are children.

The government’s new crime plan includes a proposal to criminalise rough sleeping, and more measures to curb ‘nuisance begging’ – just more attacks on society’s most vulnerable. It’s all a distraction from poverty, the fundamental cause and propagator of crime. 52% more crimes are recorded in the most deprived areas.


In their ‘beating crime plan’ the Tories have shoehorned in a reward for parasitic landlords. They’ll be able to evict tenants who are just two weeks late on their rent or deemed ‘antisocial’.

More young people than ever before are trying to access mental health services. The proportion of 6 to 16-year-olds diagnosed with a mental health condition has risen to one in six, a 60% increase since 2017.

Increased awareness of mental health alone cannot account for this uptick. A recent survey by the National Education Union (NEU) revealed a lack of access to services is putting teaching staff under huge pressure. 92% said their school has either not enough or no access to mental health provision. That report also found that one of the largest contributors to worsening health and wellbeing was the economic crisis.

When combined with the prevalence of zero-hour contracts, and a sharp decline in the growth of service and entertainment industries – typical areas of employment for young people – it has resulted in a trifecta of trouble for youth. Fewer opportunities, more precarious living situations, and no safe spaces for respite.

Rishi Sunak won’t tackle these problems. And Keir Starmer is trying to copy the Tories by pretending to be ‘tough on crime’, writing in the right-wing Daily Mail, while Labour councils cut the services we rely on.

Instead, we need fully funded youth services, rent control, mass building of safe and secure council housing, jobs and the minimum wage raised to £15 per hour to give everyone the future we deserve.