New £368m fund to ‘level up’ England’s youth services opens for applications

Social enterprises and charities can bid for grants of up to £9m as part of a new £368m government fund to build and improve youth facilities in left-behind areas of England.

The Youth Investment Fund Phase Two will provide grants, expected to range from £300,000 to £8.7m, to providers of youth services – for example community interest companies, community benefit societies, charities, sports clubs or local authorities – to fund up to 300 existing or new youth facilities.

Funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), the fund is delivered by Social Investment Business in partnership with the National Youth Agency, and social investors Key Fund and Resonance.

The fund aims to develop out-of-school activities for 11–18 year-olds (up to 25 for young people with special educational needs or disabilities) to improve their mental and physical wellbeing and help them develop skills for work and their personal lives.

Nigel HuddlestonCivil society minister Nigel Huddleston (pictured) said: “This government is committed to ensuring that no young person is left out of reach or left behind. And this commitment is at the heart of our drive to level up this country.” 

To be selected, facilities will also have to “represent positive value for money”, be environmentally sustainable and be located in eligible areas – defined as areas where the need for youth services is high but the provision is low. They could be community youth spaces, youth centres of various sizes and activity centres, for example.

The government described the fund as “a commitment to young people to transform and level up the out-of-school youth sector”. 

This commitment is at the heart of our drive to level up this country

Phase one was launched in January by Children in Need on behalf of the UK government, providing £12m for small-scale projects. 

In phase two, the fund expects the majority of grants to be between £300,000 and £8.7m, but will consider bids exceeding this amount. All grants awarded by the Youth Investment Fund must be spent by March 2025.

Grants can be used to cover the cost for building, renovating or refurbishing youth facilities as well as associated expenses including project management, professional costs and legal fees.

The fund also has a focus on carbon reduction and cost-efficient construction. In a statement, CEO of Social Investment Business Nick Temple and chair Hazel Blears said the intention of the fund was that projects would not only “help expand youth service provision, but [also] help organisations save money on running costs and be more resilient, and that they start to help the youth sector estate transition towards net zero”.


Top image credit: Sport England; portrait of Nigel Huddleston by Richard Townshend for UK Parliament

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