The requirement for Children’s Fund projects to spend a quarter of
their funding on youth crime prevention has been criticised by a
significant number of project managers, according to the first
national evaluation of the fund.
Research carried out by independent researchers commissioned by the
Department for Education and Skills revealed that 58 of the 149
programme managers spoke about “the 25 per cent issue” as a factor
which had limited their progress is partnership working.
“In most cases these were strongly expressed views, as the
programme managers typically spoke of the ‘appalling nature of the
25 per cent change’, which was ‘difficult’ and ‘problematic’,” the
The 25 per cent allocation was generally seen as a problem which
impeded the development of services aimed at supporting young
people who were at risk of social exclusion.
A DfES spokesperson said the department was prepared to show some
flexibility over the 25 per cent requirement, but stressed that the
planned youth inclusion and support panels and junior youth
inclusion support panels should be funded as a priority under the
The spokesperson added that if the expenditure fell below the 25
per cent level, the balance should be spent on preventing
antisocial behaviour and youth crime.
The DfES also recommends that youth offending team managers should
sit on the 149 partnership boards in each local authority area and
be involved in developing plans and agreeing budgets.
The bodies with final responsibility for managing delivery of local
Children’s Fund programmes were most likely to be local
authorities, the report added.
But programme managers spoke about tensions related to “power
dynamics” between agencies within the partnership.
The involvement of children and young people at partnership board
level was quite limited. Among other issues raised by programme
managers were the recruitment and retention of staff and the lack
of joined-up thinking in government policy.
However, the report stressed that the Children’s Fund could be seen
as a “catalyst” for collaborative working, as set out in the
children’s green paper, Every Child Matters.