A government fund for organisations that help young people with their health, skills and employability can be applied for by organisations in only two of London’s 32 boroughs under criteria used to define so-called “left behind” areas.
Phase 1 of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s youth investment fund, which opens today, invites bids for a share of £10 million from youth projects in 95 areas of England, 93 of which are outside the capital.
Government methodology for identifying places where the money is needed excludes all London boroughs except Tower Hamlets and Barking & Dagenham from the scope of phase one, while Birmingham, Sunderland, Liverpool, Norfolk, Bolton, East Sussex, Doncaster, the metropolitan borough of Manchester and selected parts of Somerset and Suffolk are among those included.
London Youth, a charity that works with over 600 youth-focused community organisations in the capital, says it is “sad and disheartened” by what it calls the exclusion of “huge numbers of deprived young Londoners” from the DCMS fund, which is being administered by Children in Need. “We are seriously concerned that disadvantaged young Londoners are being left out.”
The funding is for “small scale capital projects” such as equipment, building improvements or IT improvements, and grants have to be spent by 31 March this year. Applicant organisations must work with children or young people primarily between the ages of 11 and 18, or older if considered at risk or having special educational needs. Most allocations will be of between £5,000 and £50,000.
The capital’s near-shutting out of the youth investment fund is despite it being repeatedly found to have the highest child poverty rate of any English region. It is the latest in a series of government funding programmes which have seen other parts of the country favoured and London marginalised, such as the UK Community Renewal Fund, skills accelerator schemes, the Towns Fund and the Levelling Up Fund.
in November Secretary of State for Levelling Up Michael Gove, whose “levelling up” white paper is expect to be published this week, told MPs it was “very much something in my mind” to redistribute funding at his disposal to help local authorities in the north of England.