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£6.25M BOOST FOR VOLUNTARY SECTOR INFRASTRUCTURE SCHEME

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Community and voluntary organisations across England are to get a ...
Community and voluntary organisations across England are to get a

£6.25m government cash boost to help them work together,

communicate better and have a stronger voice in policy-making, home

office minister Fiona Mactaggart announced today.

The money will be used by organisations that help the

voluntary and community sector (VCS) make its voice heard

in policy-making, and help VCS organisations work together

and communicate with each other.

The programme is the first part of the government's £93m

investment in the country's voluntary and community organisations, to

enable them gear up to help shape and deliver high quality public

services.

The money allocated today is to support two themes:

- Development work, to improve capacity and communications in areas

with very little or no voluntary and community sector

infrastructure.

- 'Exemplar' work, both nationally and locally, to develop ideas and

proposals on building and sharing good practice, delivering support

services in new and innovative ways, and redesigning the way

services are delivered to improve sustainability, efficiency and

effectiveness.

Ms Mactaggart said: 'To be full partners in shaping and delivering public services,

voluntary and community organisations need to have a strong voice on

policy-making and communicate well with each other. They need to have

the capacity to meet the challenges they face. These qualities should

be supported by a high quality, sustainable infrastructure. The

government is keen to see this developed - and these funds will help

to get the ball rolling.

'These new funds will break new ground, promote new ideas and create

partnerships - benefiting voluntary and community organisations in

every region. Government offices will work in partnership with the

voluntary and community sector and other key players to commission

local projects. They will also ensure that funds are alloca ted fairly.'

Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs minister Alun Michael said:

'The Home Office and DEFRA will be working together to ensure that

rural communities throughout England have infrastructure support as

strong as that available in towns and cities.'

NOTES

- The deadline for proposals for national exemplar projects is 5.00pm

on Friday 9 January 2004. Successful national projects will be

announced by the end of January 2004.

- Local and regional work will be commissioned by government offices,

with funds available in the New Year. Contact your government

office from January 5 2004 for more information.

- The total £93m funding for the implementation of an

Infrastructure Strategy arising from the government's October 2002

cross cutting review on the Role of the Voluntary and Community

Sector in service delivery was announced by Ms Mactaggart on 17

September 2003 in a written ministerial statement (Home Office

press release 254/2003).

- The cross cutting review recommended that government and the VCS

develop a Capacity Building and Infrastructure Strategy to support

the VCS' role in influencing and delivering public services.

- The VCS Infrastructure consultation document is available here

Responses can be made to this document up to 22 December 2003.

- What is Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) Infrastructure?

VCS infrastructure organisations provide capacity building support to

voluntary and community organisations (VCOs). They represent VCO

interests and provide a voice for VCOs in policy making. They also

facilitate joint working between VCOs and across the public and

private sectors. Infrastructure organisations exist at national,

regional, sub-regional and local levels and may also be known as

'umbrella' or 'second tier' organisations. This is because they

provide support to 'firs t tier' or 'front-line' VCOs.

There are generic infrastructure organisations that provide support

to all VCOs within a particular geographic area. There are also

specialist infrastructure organisations that provide support to VCOs

working with specific communities/client groups or within specific

service areas.

1. National Exemplar Projects.

The Active Community Unit is commissioning work and inviting

proposals for work managed at a national level or across two or more

regions. Approximately £1m is available to support bids in the

range of £10,000 to £75,000.

2. Development Projects and Exemplar Projects managed at local, sub-

regional and regional level.

There will be no bidding rounds. Government offices in the regions

will be managing funds and commissioning work, working in partnership

with the VCS and other stakeholders.

Local will normally mean local authority level.

Detailed information is available from your local government office.

'Early Spend' development work in local, sub-regional and regional

areas with very little or no VCS infrastructure, could include:

- Mapping and consulting local voluntary and community organisations

to produce evidence of capacity building needs.

- Strategically exploring local funding and income generating

opportunities with potential funders of infrastructure.

- Supporting partnerships (including cross-sector) to draw up

proposals for sustainable local infrastructure development.

The Home Office and the DEFRA will be working together to ensure

that rural parts of England have infrastructure support as strong

as that available in towns and cities.

- 'Early Spend' exemplar work will develop ideas and proposals on

building and sharing good practice, delivering support services in

new and innovative ways, and redesigning the way services are

delivered to improve sustainability, efficiency and effectiveness.< p/=""> This could include support for the following:

Successful infrastructure supporting the development of

infrastructure in weaker areas

Increasing collaboration and strategic working between infrastructure

bodies on policy, information andservices; building links between

generic and specialist infrastructure

Preparation of ideas and proposals for redesigning or developing new

models of delivery, including partnership working, feasibility

studies, and consultancy.

Exemplar projects can be at local, sub-regional, regional or national

levels.

DEFRA's policy paper on Community Capacity Building and Voluntary

Sector Infrastructure in Rural England is available here.

Responses can also be made to this document up to 22 December 2003.

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