Years of success by councils at reducing youth crime could end if ministers fail to maintain funds for tackling and preventing offending, the Local Government Association has warned.
It said councils had still not received their youth justice grant allocations for 2018-19, despite having to set budgets this month.
Government funding for youth offending teams has fallen from £145m in 2010-11 to just £72m this year, the LGA said.
This put at risk the continuation of successful programmes that had seen the number of youth cautions fall over that period by more than 100,000, equivalent to 90%.
The LGA warned that demand for urgent child protection work, and a £2bn funding gap for children’s services by 2020, would force councils to divert money from preventative work to those at immediate risk of harm.
Richard Watts (Lab), chair of its children and young people board, said: “As the numbers of young offenders has fallen, so has the grant from central government to continue the preventative work that caused the fall in the first place.
“Councils must be given the resources they need to work with young people and prevent their involvement in crime in the first place, rather than simply picking up the pieces after offences have been committed.”
He said youth offending teams urgently needed to know what resources they would have with council budgets being finalised this month