Bookstart has had its funding slashed by 50% after the government pledged to continue funding the bookgifting scheme for the next two years.
C.e.o of independent charity Booktrust, which administers the scheme, Viv Bird welcomed the guaranteed funding, which comes two months after the charity faced having its £13m annual funding slashed completely for the bookgifting programme. The Booktrust+ pack, which is aimed at children aged 18-30 months will be cut completely under the plans.
Booktrust will now receive £7.5m in 2011-12 and £6m in 2012-13 to deliver its national bookgifting programmes Bookstart, aimed at babies and toddlers, Booktime, aimed at reception year children, and Booked Up, which delivers a free book to every child starting secondary school.
The Department of Education said the bookgifting programme will remain universal, but will offer additional support to disadvantaged children at a number of schools.
Viv Bird, Booktrust c.e.o., said: "We are pleased that the Department for Education is to continue its strong partnership with Booktrust and publishers in funding the bookgifting programme. This announcement reflects our shared aspiration to inspire a love of reading, and to offer more choice and support to the most disadvantaged children and families."
She added: "We are tremendously grateful for the support we have received from publishers, authors, local authorities, libraries, health officials, schools and children’s centres and look forward to consulting closely with all of our partners about the shape and details of the programme."
Education secretary Michael Gove said: "I am extremely confident that Booktrust, with whom we’ve worked closely to secure an excellent funding package over the next two years, will use their wealth of experience and expertise to deliver a bookgifting scheme that makes a real difference to children and families, and is sustainable in the longer term."
The coalition government's decision in December to cut all funding to the Bookstart programme led to a national outcry from children's authors including Philip Pullman and Michael Rosen, as well as Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.