CHILDREN'S Minister Margaret Hodge has told Woodcraft Folk officials that she will not reverse her decision to scrap the organisation's annual grant of £ 52,000.
At a meeting with Woodcraft Folk representatives, and during a Westminster debate, Ms Hodge said there was great competition for funding this year and the organisation's application did not meet the department's criteria.
Ms Hodge said: `The Woodcraft Folk bid was not successful when judged against our criteria. I stress that that does not mean that the organisation does not do splendid things and does not have a very important contribution to make, but if we publish criteria; if we want an open and transparent system; and if we have a fair competition, it is inevitable that some organisations will fail and others will succeed.`
However Ms Hodge did offer a member of her own staff to work for the Woodcraft Folk for 12 months on a secondment to help support the central organisation and look for ways to diversify funding streams so it can be sustainable in the long-term.
Chris Pyke, Deputy Secretary of the Woodcraft Folk, who attended the meeting, said: "There was no money on the table because the money has already been fully allocated. So, naturally, we are very disappointed – but pleased that they offered us some help. At least we didn't come away empty handed."
Mr Pyke said the Woodcraft Folk will have to make some "major changes" to its budget, but still hopes to retain all five permanent staff.
Decision on where the extra money will come from to support the central organisation will be made at the General Council meeting in mid-April.
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP for Islington North, who initiated the Westminster Hall debate, said: "We are in the Year of the Volunteer and there is nothing more voluntary than most of what the Woodcraft Folk do. We do not have paid workers, other than those who run the outdoor pursuit centres and those at head office. We are not a wealthy organisation.
"When the Woodcraft Folk reapplied for the grant, they were unfortunately not successful. The money will not be available from next year onwards. That is a great shame, because it will damage the work of head office and weaken the Woodcraft Folk.
"The failure of that application also sends the unfortunate message to volunteers that they are not likely to receive recognition from central Government."
Under the scheme that the Folk applied for funding, £ 9 million was allocated during 1996 to 1999. During the next three-year cycle £ 21m was available Ã¯Â¿Â½ prompting strong competition from other childrens' groups.
Ms Hodge added the goals of the Folk, such as participating in society through activities or expressing a voice, was also offered by such organisations like Children's Express and the Children's Society.