London, Oct 26 : Critics believe that the Preventing Violent Extremism Fund, which was started last year by former Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly to prevent teenagers turning to dangerous forms of Islam, is being spent aimlessly without achieving the desired objectives.
They say that large sums of money out of the Fund are being given to projects that do not meet its specific objectives, and are being handed out to community groups without councilors considering them first.
According to The Telegraph, a BBC investigation disclosed that grants of up to 30,000 pounds are being distributed by Birmingham City Council for projects such as a photographic exhibition of positive images of the city's Muslims, and a conference to allow community organisations to meet policy-makers.
One woman who was given funding totaling 7000 pounds said she did not feel the work she did was an effective use of the money. "I did feel at the time that the amount of money I was being offered was rather large for the kind of work and it made me concerned about who gets the money and how they were checking these funds were going to be effectively used," the paper quoted her as saying in a Radio interview.
Salma Yaqoob from the Respect Party added: "It seems to me that the Preventing Violent Extremism agenda is being used as a gravy train for those willing to toe the Government line, regardless of effectiveness on the ground."
But, Alan Rudge, who is in charge of PVE money for Birmingham, insisted that there had been wide consultation on how best to spend the cash in areas such as work with young people and women, the media and Islamic groups.
Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, also defended the use of the cash, saying: "We have got to work with local authorities. They know their communities and increasingly the councillors are showing political leadership on it and they are now seeing what works.