The government has announced cuts of at least £169.5m to capital funding for a range of projects affecting children and young people, including money for youth facilities, new playgrounds and improved social work IT systems.
The cuts were revealed in a letter from Education Secretary Michael Gove, which was sent to all local authorities this week. The letter states that the £15m the previous government committed to improving the Integrated Children’s System, to help social workers keep better records of the children they support, has been scrapped.
Local authorities have been instructed to dip into the £23m Local Social Work Improvement Fund if they want to continue to address any IT problems they have.
The remainder of the Youth Capital Fund, which paid for local youth facilities chosen by young people, has been halved to £13m.
Gove also revealed the government intends to retain the majority of money committed to new playgrounds by the previous government in areas where it has not yet been spent. Ministers recently lifted the ringfence from the remainder of the £235m given to local authorities by the previous government to build and develop new play areas.
But now Gove has told all local authorities not to commence with any capital play projects until further notice, unless construction is already under way.
Where local authorities have already entered into contracts to build new play areas, the government intends to “review the exact level of contractual commitment” before allowing them to commence.
Another £50m in support for local authorities that joined the Building Schools for the Future programme late has been clawed back. In addition, £15m allocated to developing new school pools as part of the now defunct free swimming programme has also been retained by the DfE.
Gove claimed that the comprehensive spending review in October would be handled “in a completely different way” to how decisions have been taken on recent cuts. “[The spending review] will involve consulting widely and making use of all available talents to deliver a stronger society, as well as a smaller state,” he added.