Relationship between youth organisations and government

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat government elected in 2010 is making cuts in public expenditure which will impact heavily on Voluntary and Community Organisations (VCOs) that work with young people, many of whom have been the recipients of government funding. The coalition government’s Big Society agenda aims to support VCOs to have much greater involvement in the delivery of public services, and the government is looking at setting proportions of youth services that should be delivered by independent providers. There will be funding opportunities for VCOs that work with young people if they can be commissioned by local authorities and central government to deliver public services. Funding for VCOs will also be available from the Big Society Bank, which will use dormant bank and building society accounts alongside private investment to provide new finance to the VCS and support it to have greater involvement in the running of public services.

Other government funding streams that have benefited VCOs working with young people are changing. In December 2010, the Department for Education confirmed that support for young people through information, advice and guidance services, health services, and anti-crime initiatives will no longer be funded through separate streams, but will be incorporated into the new Early Intervention Grant. The grant will 'focus on early intervention in the early years', but it will also help local authorities to support vulnerable young people to engage in education and training, help prevent young people from taking part in risky behaviours like crime or teenage pregnancy, and help to support those young people who have a learning difficulty, disability or mental health problem. [1] Since funding will be targeted at these interventions, there will be little or no support for youth services that cater to all young people, such as youth clubs.

Voluntary youth organisations have also been directly supported by Department for Education funding for many years, through grants such as the Children, Young People and Families (CYPF) Grant and the National Voluntary Youth Organisation (NVYO) Grant. The Conservative-Liberal Democrat government elected in 2010 is continuing to provide some grant funding for the VCS but recipients "will be expected as part of their proposals to set out clear plans for establishing alternative funding arrangements and longer term sustainability during the period of the grant.” [2]

What are the implications?

  • VCOs working with young people will need to be aware of whether the government is providing any funding to support the work that they are doing.
  • There will be increasing competition for government funds between VCOs working with young people, both from existing and new organisations.
  • There will be new opportunities for VCOs working with young people to deliver public services, and in particular local authority youth services.
  • Competition for funds, more strategic funding and increased involvement in public service delivery will require VCOs to provide more evidence of their outcomes.
  • There will be increasing need for VCOs to understand the full range of funding sources available to ensure a sustainable funding mix. This will be particularly important for those hoping to access funding through the Big Society Bank, which is looking to focus on growing the social investment market.
  • VCOs who receive significant funding from government – e.g. through public service delivery – will need to be aware that this might have implications for their identity as a VCO.
  • VCOs offering universal services to all young people may need to seek alternative sources of funding, including private investment and trust funding.

Moving forward

  • Are there any public services which your organisation could deliver? Do you want your organisation to deliver public services?
  • What are you going to do if young people’s services are cut? Will you try to provide them yourself, or campaign for others to provide them?
  • Is your organisation ready to bid for and manage contracts? Do you know what is involved or where to go to find out more about the skills you will need?
  • How can you meet the challenge of even stiffer competition for funds, including the need for efficiency and value for money and heightened expectations of evidence?
  • Are you too reliant on one source of income - how can you diversify your funding streams to reduce the risk if one source of income dries up? If you currently rely on government funding to support your work are there any other ways you could raise money if that funding is cut?
  • What steps should you take to cope with the risk of a reduced income in future?
  • If you deliver public services are there conflicts between your mission, values and campaigns and the outputs, outcomes and expectations of the funder?

Want to know more?

Improving outcomes for children, young people and families – a national prospectus

Published by: Department of Education

Date: November 2010

What is it? The Department of Education’s VCS grant prospectus which provides a picture of the key activities that the Department for Education wishes to fund directly at a national level.

How useful is it? It gives an insight into the types of work that the Department for Education is intending to fund in 2011-13. It also sets out the bidding process for grant funded activities which may be useful in future years.

Unclaimed Assets: Funding for young people and social investment

Published by: NCVO

Date: March 2010

What is it? A document written by VCS representatives which sets out how social investment, funded by the Big Society Bank, could support youth organisations.

How useful is it? It is a really interesting presentation about how youth projects could be funded by different models of investment.

Big Society – overview

Published by: The Cabinet Office

Date: January 2011

What is it? The Conservative-Liberal Democrat government elected in 2010 has made the Big Society a central part of its policy agenda. The Big Society is about helping people to come together to improve their own lives and putting more power in people’s hands.

How useful is it? This website gives further details of the Big Society agenda, and includes discussion on the role of the VCS in the delivery of public services. It also gives some details on the Big Society Bank.

[1] Department for Education, December 2010, Allocations for Local Government and Maintained Schools [Back]

Last updated at 16:47 Thu 03/Feb/11.


How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

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