Swingeing cuts to Children’s Fund announced

Children’s Fund programmes are facing a budget cut of
nearly a quarter over the next two years, managers have been

Budgets for 2004-2005 will be sliced by 15 per cent, and then by
about a third in 2005 -2006.

In a letter dated last Friday (January 30th),  Children’s
Fund director Kathy Bundred told  programme managers the budget for
the next two years, agreed by education secretary Charles Clarke,
will total £250 million over the next two years instead of the
expected £150 million a year.

The cuts are understood to be the result of
“over-allocation” of funds by the now disbanded
Children and Young People’s Unit which was responsible for
the Children’s Fund until last autumn. The 2002 spending
review promised a total of £650 million to the CYPU  between
2002 and 2006,  but a year into the spending review period, the
money is running short.

This is because the Children’s Fund itself was
over-allocated by £16 million this year, and other
initiatives,  particularly street crime programmes and Information
Sharing (formerly Identification, Referral and Tracking) which are
costing £12 million a year each, have left less for local
Children’s Fund programmes.

The cuts were discussed at  a meeting in London last Wednesday
called by Anne Weinstock who now heads the section of the
Department of Education and Skills which is responsible for the
Children’s Fund.  Those invited included one programme
manager from each region, representatives of Barnardos, NSPCC and
NCH, the Youth Justice Board, regional Children’s Fund
officials and three chairs of Children’s Fund

Two options for achieving the budget cuts were discussed at the
meeting. As an alternative to a cut  across-the-board, Weinstock
proposed making the whole cut from wave 3 Children’s Fund
programmes which have not yet made contractual commitments to
service providers.

This was rejected by those at the meeting, despite concerns that
some small existing programmes would become non-viable next year if
they lost a third of their funding.

Programme managers are angry that the figures were not
circulated before the meeting, and that a discussion of the
mistakes that led to these cuts was not allowed at the meeting.
Questions are also being raised about the role of senior civil
servants at the CYPU who were responsible for Children’s
Fund  finances. Althea Efunshile who was director of the Children
and Young People’s Unit is now DfES director for Safeguarding
Children and Supporting Families, and Kathy Bundred is still head
of the Children’s Fund.

One programme manager who spoke to 0-19 expected to be made
redundant because of the cuts. The manager spent much of yesterday
going through a list of local projects deciding which to cross out.
The cuts meant that public money already invested in the
Children’s Fund had been wasted, said the manager, because
services were going to be withdrawn almost as soon as they’d

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