Volunteering England welcomes new local infrastructure fund
Friday, 15 July 2011The Transforming Local Infrastructure programme implements the Government’s proposal in the Giving White Paper and is administered by Big Fund. The programme is making £30 million available for an 18 month period to provide better support for frontline civil society organisations by rationalising and transforming local infrastructure services.
To be funded, bids will need to meet outcomes which feature:
- access for frontline civil society organisations to support, networking and volunteering brokerage;
- partnerships with local businesses and statutory sector;
- infrastructure organisations, including volunteering infrastructure, to be more efficient and effective, able to learn and less dependent on state funding.
Bids will need to focus on transforming organisations to meet the outcomes. Support for existing services can be included at up to 25 per cent of the bid.
Only one bid will be considered for each of the 152 upper tier local authority areas.
The outline timetable is:
- by 5 August organisations to register an interest;
- by 2 September lead applicant in each upper tier authority to register expression of interest and partnership;
- by 31 October application and in principle partnership agreement to be submitted;
- by end of March 2012 first payments to successful applicants.
Responding to the launch of the Transforming Local Infrastructure programme, Volunteering England Chief Executive Justin Davis Smith said:
'We welcome the commitment in the programme to local volunteering infrastructure and the recognition of its importance to our communities.
‘We urge our members, particularly Volunteer Centres, to work on how they can engage with the programme to strengthen their organisations and develop their support services to the local community.
‘There is no denying that the timetable in the Guidance Notes for drawing together local partnerships within seven weeks (to 2 September) is problematic. The lesson from Change Up is that such relationships take time to establish and nurture. Whilst many local areas have created effective authority-wide organisations or consortia, there will be pressure in other areas for hastily convened marriages of convenience rather than the long-term strategic collaborations which are needed. Having waited patiently for so long for this fund, we would urge a re-think over the timings to give it the best possible chance of success.
'We are disappointed by the reliance on reform focussed only at the level of upper tier local authorities. Local support services take on many different forms in different communities, with many highly successful organisations working at community levels. We would have expected a programme design which recognised the benefits of building on this plurality and diversity and which is more in tune with the principles of the bottom-up, community-focused approach enshrined in the Localism Bill and the recent Open Public Services White Paper.
‘The Government has accepted the case for investing in local infrastructure, and we need now to take up the challenge presented by this programme. It offers opportunities to invest in a period of change that will enable local infrastructure to adapt to the changes in the political and social conditions.’
For media enquiries, please contact:
- Further information on the programme (Big Fund site)
15 July 2011