Birmingham axes youth grants
Monday, February 8, 2010
Hundreds of thousands of pounds of grant-aided funding will be slashed from voluntary youth work in Birmingham next year, CYP Now can reveal.
Birmingham City Council contacted voluntary youth work organisations last week to inform them that grant-aided funding will cease beyond March 2011. The money is understood to amount to around £800,000, benefiting around 40 organisations.
Mike Smith, director of Birmingham Federation of Clubs for Young People, said losing its grant of £22,000 will have a "dramatic impact" on the federation's service. "It doesn't cover all of our running costs but goes a fair way towards it. We already have a small team and can't cut it anywhere," he said. "The government is saying it wants young people more engaged with services but we can't do it on thin air."
The council said money for voluntary youth organisations will still be available through a new commissioning framework whereby charities have to bid to run programmes it assigns, but it was unable to confirm how much.
But Asif Afridi, deputy chief executive of Brap, which runs the Birmingham Voluntary Youth Sector Network, warned that small organisations will struggle to compete in a commissioning environment.
He said: "There is a risk that some of their expertise could be lost if they are not supported."
Young Disciples, an anti-gang project in Birmingham, which was praised by shadow children's minister Tim Loughton after his experience in the Channel 4 documentary Tower Block of Commons, will be hit by the cuts.
Marc Edwards, founder of the charity, said: "Our work really has an impact in the community [but] this will mean less quality of service to the people we serve. We are going to see a rise in antisocial behaviour."
Tony Bennett, chief executive of Clubs for Young People, slammed the council's decision, saying it will lead to poorer quality youth provision.
"As local authorities are under pressure to reduce budgets, funding for youth work is easy to attack because they have less statutory obligations," he said.