Fundraising News: Government sets policy for young people's fund

The Government has issued the New Opportunities Fund with policy directions for the new young people's fund. It will be supported initially by £200m lottery money, and will address poverty and social exclusion of children and the under-25s.

The bulk of the fund, £157m, will be ring-fenced for existing youth programmes including Positive Activities for Young People, Get Real, Extended Schools and School Sports Co-ordinators. The remaining £77m will be open to bidding from the voluntary sector. Grants will be made on three different levels: large-scale grants to charities; medium-sized grants to community groups and project grants to individual young people.

Helen Thorne, senior policy adviser at the New Opportunities Fund, said young people will take an active role in deciding how the money should be spent.

"The fund is closely connected to the Every Child Matters green paper.

During the consultation for the green paper, we spoke to more than 3,000 young people aged 13-24," she said. "The bottom line was that young people want places to go, but they also had a lot of original ideas about how services could be delivered."

Thorne added that there is no statutory link between the green paper and the fund, but grants will focus on the outcomes outlined in Every Child Matters.

Children's charities said it would allow them to engage on a more equal basis with the statutory sector, but stressed the need for more investment for young people.

Caroline Abrahams, director of public policy at NCH, said: "£77m of unallocated funding doesn't go very far. Projects in rural areas are particularly difficult to fund, for example. Young people are more spread out, and often there is no infrastructure."

Anne Longfield, chief executive of 4Children, agreed: "It's not enough to alter the face of youth services, but it will shout out the need for better services."

Consultation closed last week and details of the fund will be confirmed this summer.

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