Government in 'partial U-turn' over Booktrust funding

Government in 'partial U-turn' over Booktrust funding

<p>The government has said that it will &quot;continue to fund Booktrust book-gifting programmes in the future&quot;, as it responds to public outrage at its decision to cut all existing funding from the Department for Education for the book charity&#39;s bookgifting programmes in England from 1st April.</p><p>In a statement released jointly with the books charity, the government revealed it would work with Booktrust to develop a new programme of bookgifting. It had earlier pulled &pound;13m of funding from the organisation, and the Labour Party described the new talks as only a &quot;partial U-turn&quot;. Labour leader Ed Miliband called for a &quot;clear statement about the amount of investment that will be provided&quot;.</p><p>The joint statement made no mention of money, but said: &quot;Although the current contract will end in April the Department are talking to Booktrust about how to develop a new programme which will ensure that every child can enjoy the gift of books at crucial moments in their lives while ensuring we develop an even more effective way of supporting the most disadvantaged families to read together. The Department and Booktrust will be working together, with publishers, in order to ensure that we can make every possible saving in developing an enhanced programme.&quot;<br /><br />Booktrust c.e.o. Viv Bird welcomed the move from education secretary Michael Gove, and said that the organisation was planning to meet with the Department for Education &quot;early in the New Year to secure a financial commitment from the government and to discuss how we can develop the bookgifting programmes&quot;.<br /><br />Bird also praised the &quot;huge and spontaneous show of support from parents, library staff, health visitors, teachers, authors and many others, who have lent their voices to our cause&quot;.</p><p>Authors Michael Rosen, Philip Pullman, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, as well as Miliband, were among those who publically condemned the government&#39;s withdrawal of funding.<br /><br />Last year, the charity&#39;s bookgifting programmes, Bookstart, Booktime and Booked Up, received &pound;13m from the Department for Education, and a further &pound;56m in sponsorship from publishing and corporate partners.<br /><br />Miliband accused the government of presiding over a &quot;fiasco&quot; and called for clarification. According to the BBC, Miliband wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron after the joint statement was issued.</p><p>In his letter, the Labour leader wrote: &quot;On school sport we saw a mean-minded decision made without consultation or regard for the consequences where you had to perform a partial U-turn. We are seeing that again here. The Booktrust were simply told a week ago that 100% of their &pound;13m funding was being cut without any explanation. Today, the Department of Education appears to be starting to backtrack amid the outcry from parents, children and authors.&quot;</p>