TLIO | 16.03.2005 16:39
by David Batty
Wednesday March 16, 2005 http://society.guardian.co.uk/children/story/0,,1439170,00.html
The Woodcraft Folk, a liberal alternative to the Scouts and Guides, today claimed its opposition to the Iraq war led to the government axing its funding.
Jess Cawley, chairman of the Woodcraft Folk general council, said he could not think of any other reason why the organisation's central government grant had been withdrawn for the first time in 40 years.
The official reason given by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) for refusing the group's application for a £52,000 grant, which represents 20% of its annual budget, is that "it does not have sufficiently robust outcome indicators" and "does not represent good value for money".
The department added that the group had failed to provide sufficient information that its work would promote the outcomes of the government's child welfare reform programme, Every Child Matters.
Mr Crawley said: "How can we not be good value for money? We have five paid staff - the other 3,000 youth leaders in our organisation give their time, energy and enthusiasm entirely free of charge.
"The government would deny that the grant has been withdrawn because we were against the Iraq war. It's pure speculation on my part but I can't think of another reason."
Members of the Woodcraft Folk, which was set up 80 years ago by Labour party supporters who thought the Scouts and Guides too militaristic, were heavily involved in demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq.
The group, which has 9,000 young members, provides educational, leisure and residential courses and facilities to another 9,000 young people across the UK.
The Woodcraft Folk is mounting a campaign to persuade the DfES to change its mind, as well as seeking to raise alternative sources of funding.
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP for Islington North, has also received the support of more than 50 MPs for an early day motion calling for a reversal of the decision.
A DfES spokesman said: "All bids were subject to a very rigorous assessment process, and a panel was convened to quality assure the process of rating the bids, and to agree recommendations with the minister. The panel included a voluntary sector observer.
"Bids were assessed against national significance, quality and value for money, with a strong focus on outcomes as specified in Every Child Matters."