Children’s charities are cautious about the future of
Children’s Fund projects despite budget cuts being less
severe than feared, writes Derren Hayes.
The Department for Education and Skills announced this week that
the allocation for the fund over the next three years will be
£411.5m, an average of £136m a year. Some had feared the
annual funding could be as low as £110m because confusion in
the allocations had caused disturption to budgets in the 149
Children’s Fund partnerships during 2002 and 2004.
As a further sweetener, increased flexibility will be built into
the system so that funding underspends from the previous year can
be carried over to the next. And partnerships will be allowed to
weight their allocations so they receive more in one of the three
years. The government announced the extension of the fund to 2008
as part of its July spending review.
But there will still be less money available than now – the
2004-5 budget is £160m – leaving some projects facing an
Paul Ennals, chief executive of the National Children’s
Bureau, said that while the added flexibility and less severe than
expected cuts were encouraging, the settlement was likely to cause
“It was initially hoped councils would fund some
Children’s Fund projects as the ringfenced money reduced, but
children’s budgets are looking fragile and the risk is that
the preventive work it funds is often the most vulnerable [to