Theresa May has announced £80m funding for youth projects

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Theresa May has announced £80 million of funding for youth projects in England in the latest stage of her drive to create a "great meritocracy".

The Prime Minister's announcement, which follows her controversial plans to shake up the education system, involves money from the Government and National Lottery funds.

The initiative comes as the Government prepares to introduce legislation to put the National Citizen Service on a permanent legal footing.

The money announced by May will be split between the Youth Investment Fund and the Step Up To Serve #iwill social action campaign.

Downing Street said local youth groups would be able to bid for a share of the cash, which could be used to fund sports clubs, arts or drama courses, training or volunteering opportunities.

May said: "I want Britain to be the great meritocracy of the world and a fundamental part of this is ensuring all young people get the best possible start in life.

"This new funding demonstrates our commitment, and will be a huge boost for youth groups across the country - giving young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, the opportunity to gain the experiences and skills they need to succeed in life.

Theresa May

"This is all part of our determination to build a country that works for everyone and ensure that young people can go as far as their talents allow, regardless of their backgrounds."

The £40 million Youth Investment Fund will be open to projects in targeted disadvantaged communities, with funding available up to 2020 to help organisations invest and plan for the future.

In addition, the Government and Big Lottery Fund will continue their commitment to Step Up to Serve's #iwill campaign and will each invest a further £20 million each by the end of 2020.