Headlines: January 12th, 2001

A major package to encourage more people to get involved in their communities has been heralded by Chancellor Gordon Brown as the start of a transformation in relationship between the state and the voluntary sector.The Government has almost doubled its commitment to this sector, in announcements of allocations arising from the 2001-2004 Spending Review.

The 300 million pound package includes money for modernising the infrastructure of voluntary and community organisations and extra resources for deprived areas. There will be a new National Experience Corp for the over 50’s to pass on their skills and experience to help others such as passing on parenting skills to young families or helping out with sport in schools.

A big slice of the money – 120 million pounds – goes to fund volunteering in public services.

The package will play a major part in meeting the Prime Minister’s challenge of recruiting an extra one million volunteers. The Chancellor described the role of Government as shifting from the old ‘directing and controlling’ to enabling and empowering voluntary action.

The investment has been broadly welcomed by volunteer associations, but there is a fear that some work currently undertaken by paid public sector professionals could be hived off to the voluntary sector.

The working papers used in support of the Active Community Cross-Cutting Review are available on the Active Community Unit web page at: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/acu/acu.htm