Vox Pop: Is government right to end ringfencing for local grants?

Friday, May 28, 2010

The government is removing ringfencing of grants to local authorities to help them cope with the coming cuts to public services

YES - Kathy Evans, deputy chief executive, Children England

Giving local authorities greater flexibility in how they allocate their resources is important at a time like this, when they face such major financial challenges.

It is local authorities' responsibility to use that flexibility creatively to find ways of retaining investment in long-term outcomes for children. This should be not just their core statutory duties but also supporting their local voluntary sector, who are the real frontline service for some of the poorest children and families.

Grants to community organisations, commissioning and partnerships with the third sector will be a smart investment in difficult times.


NO - Doug Nicholls, national officer for community, youth workers and not for profit sector, Unite

Youth service budgets, even with minimal ringfencing, have been plundered for at least 30 years. But at least there was some ringfencing there.

I don't agree with ending ringfencing. What it means is that councils will be even more inclined to use their pot of money to spend on crisis management and superficial projects rather than looking at the long-term development work that is needed.

The price of greater flexibility will be a postcode lottery of services.


YES - Jasmine Ali, head of the Children's Services Network at the LGiU

The removal of ringfencing is welcome. Ringfencing is a statement of what the government considers most important; its removal will give councils much needed flexibility to manage change in difficult times.

However, local government must ensure that vulnerable groups are not hit disproportionately. There is a danger that cuts will bear heavily on the vulnerable such as children in care and users of youth services. Users do not have a loud voice.


NO - John Bangs, head of education, National Union of Teachers

The government is not right to end the ringfencing of local grants. Very many of these grants are targeted and specific with good reason.

For example, if all professional development money is devolved to each school, teachers may lose out if head teachers decide to spend the money differently. The Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant is absolutely essential because it enables the local authority to target additional support where it's needed.

While it may appear very attractive to some head teachers for them to control 100 per cent of their grant, the fact is that if this takes place there will inevitably be some pupils and teachers who lose out.

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