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EACEA National Policies Platform


1. Youth Policy Governance

1.7 Funding youth policy

Last update: 22 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 13/08/2020 - 11:54

On this page
  1. How Youth policy is funded
  2. What is funded
  3. Financial accountability
  4. Use of EU Funds

How Youth policy is funded

Youth services in Northern Ireland are funded from the education budget.The total Department of Education resource budget for 2019-2020 was £2.3bn and is one of the biggest governmental budgets. The Authority provides core funding for youth organisations for schemes which target specific areas of need and also provides additional funding on top of this to support the delivery of youth services. For example, in 2019, the Education Authority invited applications from organisations to receive funding through: the Inclusion Scheme, which aims to engage young people who would not normally participate in youth programmes; the Extended Provision Youth Scheme, which aims to increase access to youth clubs and services in areas of high deprivation; and the T:BUC Camps Scheme (one of the headline actions described in the Together: Building a United Community Strategy), which aims to build positive relationships amongst young people.

In 2020, the Education Authority launched the Planned Intervention Programme 2020-21. Groups registered with the Youth Service are invited to apply and the funding is aimed at: 

Young people in interface areas and areas where there is the potential of heightened social unrest during the summer period, particularly on weekends, evenings and during the traditional times of community events.

The interventions must be in line with COVID-19 guidelines. 


What is funded

The Department of Education (DE) is empowered under Article 7 of the Youth Service (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 to make capital grants for the provision of facilities for the Youth Service. The Voluntary Youth Capital Funding Scheme can, with grant-aid, assist with the cost of refurbishing premises, improving facilities for people with disabilities, bringing the property up to current health and safety and fire safety standards, child protection measures, or meeting the needs of young people within Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and those of greater risk of social exclusion/marginalisation.

Financial accountability

It is expected that investment in youth work should contribute to achieving agreed defined outcomes for young people in a cost-effective manner. Statutory and voluntary organisations are expected to report against agreed proportionate outcomes set out in approved plans.

The Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) is responsible for authorising the issue of money from central government funds to government departments and for carrying out financial and value for money audits of central government bodies including Northern Ireland Departments and Executive Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs).

The Public Accounts Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly can select reports produced by the Northern Ireland Audit Office to examine. These can be annual financial reports on public accounts or reports on the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of public spending. It can also conduct inquiries into any matters of concern which these raise.

All public expenditure programmes, large or small, must use the money allocated to them in a way that delivers the maximum benefit, in accordance with the Northern Ireland Guide to Expenditure Appraisal and Evaluation (NIGEAE). This is the primary guide for Northern Ireland Departments on the appraisal, evaluation, approval and management of policies, programmes and projects.

Accountability systems for charities

Both the Department of Education and the Education Authority may provide grants to third parties to deliver services for young people; many of these are charities. To be a charity, an organisation must have a charitable purpose for the public benefit. Charities must comply with duties placed on them by legislation; the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 and the amendments made to it by the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2013. The legislation sets out how all charities in Northern Ireland are registered and regulated.

A charity will generally have trustees who are responsible for the general control and management of the administration of a charity. Trustees have, and must accept, ultimate responsibility for directing affairs of their charity, ensuring that it is solvent, well run and delivering the charitable outcomes for the benefit of the public for which it was set up. Trustees must ensure that their charity complies with charity law and advice from Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, as well as other regulators. They must also ensure the organisation is meeting the requirements, charitable purpose and objects, set out in the charity's own governing document.

Trustees must act with integrity and avoid any personal conflicts of interest or misuse of charity funds or assets. Trustees must ensure that the charity is and will remain solvent; therefore they need to understand and be kept informed of the financial position of the organisation. They must ensure the charity's funds and assets are used wisely, and only to further the purposes and interests of the charity. They must also avoid actions that bring undue risk either financially or to the organisation's reputation.

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has published guidance to assist trustees in understanding their duties and encourages them to adopt good practice in all aspects of their operational activities.


Use of EU Funds

The strategic aim of the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014 – 2020 is to combat poverty and enhance social inclusion by reducing economic inactivity and to increase the skills base of those currently in work and future potential participants in the workforce. There is a focus on projects for young people aged 16-24 who are not in employment education or training and on people with a disability.

69 projects with a total value of £168 million are currently operational under the 2nd call of the NI ESF Programme 2014-2020. The period of funding runs from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2022. 

Youth service providers may also be eligible for funding under the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation, PEACE IV (2014-2020). PEACE IV is a unique Structural Funds programme which aims to reinforce progress towards a peaceful and stable society in Northern Ireland and the border region of the Republic of Ireland. The four priority areas are:

  • Shared Education - To increase the level of direct, sustained and curriculum-based contact between pupils and teachers from all backgrounds.
  • Children and Young People - To help young people, in particular those not in education, employment and/or training (NEETs) to develop a greater understanding and respect for diversity; access new opportunities and become active citizens.
  • Shared Spaces and Services - To create new shared spaces and services where people from different communities and backgrounds can come together to learn from and respect each other.
  • Building Positive Relations at a Local Level - To create a society characterised by good relations and respect, where cultural identity is celebrated and people can live, learn and socialise together free from prejudice, hate and intolerance.

Further information is available from the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). SEUPB was set up to deliver and administer the cross-border European Union Structural Funds programmes in Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and parts of Western Scotland. It is responsible to the European Commission, the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government for this work.