More flexibility for children’s fund partnerships

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 £130 million and £149 million in each of the
next three years. This means that within specified limits,
partnerships will be able to draw varying amounts of their
allocation in each of the three years. Government will also allow
them to 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 DfES
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 confirmed that prevention should continue to be the
main objective of  Children’s Fund spending. For the first
time local authority and primary care trust chief executives will
be asked to agree the three year plan drawn up by each
Children’s Trust partnership, emphasizing the
government’s wish to encourage closer collaboration between
agencies in preventive work.

Three year plans should include arrangements for the transfer of
responsibility for providing preventive services from
Children’s Fund partnerships to Children’s Trusts by

“Our vision is that 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”, says Hodge.

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
warns that DfES regional teams will 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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