The Conservative government has announced a £40m cash injection to stave off a growing crisis in England. But far from being new money, the cash is just covering up millions of pounds that the government has cut since 2010. And what’s more, the £40m is going to some dubious companies.
The magic money tree strikes again…
The Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) has announced a £40m funding programme for youth projects. It has given the money to 86 “youth organisations”. The DCMS claims it will:
…benefit 300,000 young people, providing new opportunities for them to get involved in their communities, support their personal development and get the skills and confidence they need to enter the workplace.
It says the cash will be used to create “new youth clubs in rural areas”, “sports projects”, and to “increase services providing support and guidance to young people”. But the DCMS money, funded equally by itself and the Big Lottery Fund, comes after the Tories have cut £387m from youth services. As a 2016 report by Unison found, since 2010:
- 603 youth centres have closed.
- 3,652 youth work jobs were lost.
- 138,898 youth places went.
Unison also said that by 2021 another £26m will be cut from funding, resulting in another 30 centres closing, 800 more jobs being lost, and 45,000 more youth places vanishing. So, in theory, the government is only putting back just over 10% of what it has actually cut since 2010.
But it’s where the government’s £40m is actually going that raises more questions than answers. Because £1.7m is going to three football clubs which are among the top 30 richest [pdf p5/6] on the planet, £2.1m to a charity set up by one of the richest men in the UK, and £5.2m to a charity of which the Queen is a patron.
Tories funding the rich
Benefactors of the money [pdf] include:
- Active Change Foundation – £205,805. A charity which states its goal is “preventing extremism”; one of its Directors worked for NATO; another for the Met Police and two were Civil Servants for the Ministry of Defence’s ‘Defence Academy‘.
- Aston Villa Foundation – £329,528. Part of the football club, which had a turnover of £108m in 2015/16. The foundation made a £4 profit [pdf p10] at the end of 2015/16, owing [pdf p11] creditors £243,549.
- Barking and Dagenham, Wirral and Wolverhampton Youth Zones – £2,176,437. Part of the national OnSide group, a charity set up by millionaire and member of The Sunday Times Rich List Bill Holroyd, whose fortune is estimated at £100m.
- Big Creative Training – £569,600. Part of Big Creative Education, a free school in London.
- Compass Support Services – £545,466. It provides “health and well-being provision, support to families and vulnerable people, services for young people, and employment and training advice” in Birmingham. Compass is part of the Pioneer Group, a private social housing landlord with an annual turnover [pdf p8] of £13m; £12m [pdf p15] of which was through social rents.
- Royal Society for Blind Children – £200,605. It has the Queen as a Patron, and Tory Defence Secretary Michael Fallon as President.
- Seven YMCAs – £5,284,930. The Chair of Coventry and Warwickshire YMCA (£734,966), for example, is Jonathan Grant, Global Chief Operating Officer of HSBC. And the YMCA overall Patron is the Queen.
- The Albion Foundation – £750,000. It had £537,134 sitting in the bank [pdf p12] in 2015/16, while West Bromwich Albion FC’s turnover was £96.3m.
- Two Scout Associations – £379,599. The parent group, The Scout Association, had a turnover [pdf p32] of £43,385,00 in 2015/16. Its Patron [pdf] is the Queen.
- West Ham United Foundation – £650,000. Part of the football club, the foundation was £38,582 in debt [pdf p11] in 2015/16, owing [pdf p15] £415,813 to creditors. Meanwhile, West Ham FC had a turnover of £142.1m, with pre-tax profits of £1.2m.
A shrinking state
The Canary contacted the DCMS for comment, but no response was received at the time of publication.
There are, of course, numerous smaller (and probably worthwhile) charities benefitting from some of the government’s £40m. But what we are witnessing with the Tories’ latest pledge is yet another drive away from the government having any culpability for public services. By selling off to, or sponsoring corporations and charities to do the job of local government, the Tories are now at the end-game of the eradication of a public provision for young people. And, if we’re not careful, the same thing will happen to the likes of the NHS and social care.
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