Council Spending Uncovered II - No. 5: Preventing Violent Extremism Grants

September 07, 2009 11:39 PM

The Prevent Strategy is part of the Government’s response to the threat of terrorism from Islamist extremists. Aimed at stopping people from becoming terrorists, the Government has given Local Authorities money to fund projects administered by community groups, as well as giving out grants themselves directly. However, there have been ongoing concerns about the groups receiving funding and it has not been clear how taxpayers’ money has been spent. The TaxPayers’ Alliance has used Freedom of Information requests to compile the data that the Government was unable to give Paul Goodman MP, a Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government, earlier this year. So for the first time, spending on the Prevent Strategy is listed in detail to show how much each organisation received individually in the 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09 financial years.


To read the full report, detailing all Prevent spending, please click here (PDF).
Key findings:

    • Over £12 million has so far been given out by local authorities to fund community groups through Prevent projects.

    • There has been insufficient monitoring of how Prevent money is spent, with the Government unsure of what groups Councils have disbursed money to.

    • This paper managed to get more detailed information on local authorities’ Preventing Violent Extremism grants than that obtained by Paul Goodman MP through parliamentary questions.

    • The TPA has been able to ascertain how much each organisation received, rather than the total amount each local authority received – an itemised account of PVE expenditure.

    • Around £850,000 has been given to the Muslim Council of Britain’s official affiliates through different Prevent funding streams.

    • Of the £38,000 initially allocated to the Cordoba Foundation, only £4,000 was withdrawn. This is despite the Cohesion Minister stating in Parliament that Tower Hamlets Council had terminated their agreement with them.

'Prevent' is one strand within the broader ‘Contest’ strategy, the others being ‘Pursue’, ‘Protect’ and ‘Prepare’. The strategy has since been updated – the Government announced ‘Contest 2’ in March of this year – and the revised approach places a greater emphasis on the Prevent agenda. This spending is broken down in to different funding streams:

    1. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) directly administer the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund and the Community Leadership Fund. They also funded other selected projects in the 2006-07 financial year.

    1. The Government have promised £45 million to local authorities over three years as ‘Preventing Violent Extremism’ (PVE) grants. PVE money is allocated to those Councils with Muslim populations of more than 5 per cent. Most of those Councils are in urban areas. 
In 2007/08, qualifying Councils received money through the ‘Pathfinder’ fund, and each local authority was then able to devise its own plan for how to use the money. Generally, third parties were invited to apply for funding by submitting project plans to the local authority, who then decided which projects to fund and therefore the organisations to administer them. In 2008/09 money was given to Councils in the form of Area-Based Grants and the money was not ring-fenced by Government. The freedom afforded to Councils means that they have spent the money in different ways. Some have set out three-year spending plans and others have not used any of their funding.    


The report concludes that skilled policing and robust intelligence are the most effective ways of tackling violent extremism, and these millions of pounds of taxpayers' money could have been far better spent. Government and/or councils need to accept that there are serious flaws in the Prevent scheme and consider its immediate abolition. 


The full report can be downloaded here (PDF).  


Matthew Sinclair, Research Director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:


“Giving councils millions of pounds to dole out to hundreds of community groups clearly creates a massive risk that money will be wasted or finance groups hostile to Britain's liberal, democratic values.  The Government has failed to avoid endorsing or funding radicals in the past and as such it's totally unrealistic to expect local councils to be able to assess which groups warrant funding. Grants to community groups aren't just risky though, they can also be divisive and wasteful.  Politicians of all parties need to acknowledge that the approach has failed, cancel this programme and start focussing directly on stopping terrorists.”

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