Children’s Fund budgets to be cut

Children’s fund programmes have been warned by the
government that their budgets will be cut in 2004-2005, and told
not to take on any new commitments for next year,
writes Frances Rickford.

But extra money has been found to prevent local programmes from
being forced to break contractual agreements with service providers
as a result of “clawback” in the recent mid-year

In a letter to programme managers Tom Jeffery, director of the
children, young people and families directorate at the Department
for Education and Skills, admitted that the recent crisis was
caused by mistakes in the Children’s Fund’s central
financial management.  But he was unable to tell programmes how
much money they will get in the coming financial year, or in
2005-2006 because ministers are reviewing priorities.

The letter, dated 19 December, promised that the
Children’s Fund will survive in some form, but warned that
budgets will be reduced. It suggests that money thought to be
earmarked for the Children’s Fund over the next two years is
likely to be diverted elsewhere within the directorate by
government ministers.

He said there will inevitably be “some reduction from the
previous announced annual allocations so you should not take on new
contractual commitments”.

Jeffery apologises to programme managers for recent problems.
Many programme managers have already written to Margaret Hodge and
himself complaining about the recent mid-year review when
children’s fund programmes saw their unspent annual
allocation clawed back by the government.

Money has been set aside by the children, young people and
families directorate to prevent the necessity for services to be
prematurely closed and staff to be made redundant.

Source: 0-19

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