Lucky number?

Funding for young people’s projects worth £200m
across the UK is to be revamped as part of a shake up of the
national lottery. Youth organisations, many of which have found it
difficult attracting the attention of ministers, say the government
must ensure teenagers and older young people are targeted in the

The Young People’s Fund (YPF) is destined to be the first
funding programme to emerge from the Big Lottery Fund, launched in
June. The BLF is the result of the merger of the New Opportunities
Fund and the Community Fund following concern that applying for
lottery funding was too complicated and that the public
couldn’t see where the money was going.

The aims of the YPF have already been agreed by parliament and
more than half the money will be used to underwrite existing
government promises. It must be tightly focused on projects that
promote youth inclusion and provide after-school and holiday
activities, and also pay attention to the outcomes set out in the
Children Bill document Every Child Matters: Next Steps.

In England the YPF will be worth £157.5m and the government
has consulted on how to spend £77.6m of that sum. This pot
will provide funding on three levels: grants to individuals and
groups of young people for community projects, and grants to
voluntary and community organisations and partnerships led by the
voluntary sector but involving statutory agencies. The third strand
of the YPF will be as a source of cash for larger scale nationally
significant projects run by voluntary agencies. In all three cases
the recipients’ projects must reflect the outcomes stipulated
by the bill. All applicants will have to show that young people
have been involved in identifying the need for the initiative, the
planning and evaluation.

The remaining £79.9m has already been earmarked for
government programmes including £25m for years two and three
of Positive Activities for Young People and £14m for
activities in extended schools. With concerns about childhood
obesity running high, PE and school sports get £28.4m, and Get
Real, a pilot residential summer activity project will be extended
for a further two years with a grant worth £12.5m to provide
21,000 extra places by 2005-6.

The youth lobby points out that most of the £200m is for
existing government initiatives. The proposal to fund voluntary
groups for a maximum of three years is not enough, according to
John Bateman, chief executive of UK Youth, as it can take three
years to find the most effective way of delivering a programme.

“A programme funded for five to seven years would give you much
better evidence on which to base future work.”

The National Youth Agency (NYA) agrees that projects should be
funded for a minimum of three years. The agency says there is
evidence that young people lose faith in initiatives that start and
finish within a short timescale. It is also seeking assurances that
people in their late teenage years and early twenties will be
catered for. In theory YPF can be used to fund projects for
children and young people aged 0-25, but all the money committed so
far covers children of school age, says NYA spokeswoman Hilary

“Young people aged from 19-25 are frequently ignored in service
planning and the very particular needs of the group making the
transition from youth to adulthood are rarely accounted for.”

The National Youth Agency would like to see money spent on
“places and spaces” where young people can choose their own
activities and test boundaries, says Spiers.

While ministers are considering responses to the consultation on
the YPF, the New Opportunities and Community Funds will continue to
run and the merger will not affect any existing grant commitments
or offers made by either body.

Bateman says anything that brings new money to work with young
people is a good thing. But how it is applied and managed will be
the critical issue.

He adds: “There is an enormous amount of good work taking place
at the moment… we need to ensure that those programmes are
properly funded.”

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