Good news from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG): Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) grants are to be abolished. In September last year we published research that showed exactly how local authorities spent the money given to them by central government - and we called for the scheme to be abolished. It was a ground breaking study: Paul Goodman - in his previous role as a MP for Wycombe - asked the Department for Communities and Local Government for a breakdown of this spending in Parliament but was unable to get an answer. Our study was the first time that PVE spending was collated - and the results showed that it was a bad attempt to build community cohesion by giving money to community groups.
There were significant worries - as outlined by Ed Husain on the Guardian website after our report was released - that some authorities inadvertently gave money to groups with links to extremist organisations. Additionally, many Muslim groups felt that the Prevent strategy stigmatised them, which seems to be the main reason it has been scrapped, according to reports.
When the Communities and Local Government select committee were taking evidence for their review on PVE last year, it was suggested at the oral evidence sessions that other faith groups felt hard done by that Muslim groups were publicly subsidised, while they struggled to raise funds to pursue their own objectives. Additionally, many offering evidence wondered why an anti-extremism fund did not encompass any other groups other than Muslims - PVE did not attempt to tackle extremists from any other part of society. There was a real sense that PVE grants undermined community cohesion rather than strengthened it.
So it's good news that the government is adopting our position, and this well-intentioned but ultimately misguided scheme is coming to a close. However, as we've seen with Regional Development Agencies, saying that something will be abolished and actually abolishing it are two different things. It's crucial that the programme is not re-named, re-branded or the money shifted to another funding stream. If the government think it's not a good idea, then they shouldn't do it.