Children’s fund wins spending flexibility

Children’s Fund partnerships will have more flexibility in
spending their allocated funds over the coming three years, the
government has announced.

Children’s Fund partnerships are expected to draw up
three-year plans by January 2005. The total allocation of the fund
will be between £130m and £149m in each of the next three

This means that within specified limits, partnerships will be
able to draw varying amounts of their allocation in each of the
three years and can carry forward unspent funds where there are
clear plans for spending them the next year.

Earlier this year, the Children’s Fund was thrown into a
financial crisis when partnerships were told by staff at the
Department for Education and Skills that because of an overspend,
they would have to give back funds they had already promised to
local projects if it had not been spent in time. After protests,
ministers found extra cash to prevent partnerships having to renege
on local agreements.

In a letter to every partnership children’s minister
Margaret Hodge confirms that prevention should continue to be the
main objective of Children’s Fund spending.

For the first time council and primary care trust chief
executives will be asked to agree the three-year plan drawn up by
each Children’s Fund partnership, emphasising the
government’s desire for closer collaboration between agencies
in preventive work.

Three-year plans should include arrangements for the transfer of
responsibility for preventive services from Children’s Fund
partnerships to children’s trusts by 2008.

“The kind of services provided by the Children’s Fund will
continue to be provided into the medium-term, with children’s
trusts taking overall responsibility by 2008 at the latest”, said

Youth crime prevention is to remain a high priority and although
partnerships will no longer be required to spend a specified
portion of their allocation on youth justice programmes, Hodge
warned that DfES regional teams would not sign off local
Children’s Fund plans that suggest “the withdrawal of funding
from effective crime prevention projects where it is not consistent
with overall movements in level of resource.”

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