Headlines: May 31st, 2002

Home Secretary David Blunkett has smoothed the way for the voluntary sector
to play a larger role in implementing Government policies. It is expected
that the Treasury’s cross-cutting review on the role of the voluntary
sector in delivering public services will set out a blue print detailing
how the Government can work with the voluntary sector to deliver high
quality public services. The review, which is part of the Comprehensive
Spending Review, will be published in the summer.

David Blunkett made it clear that the Government must forge a new
partnership with voluntary organisations and community activists to renew
civil society, fight crime and the fear of crime, challenge racism and
break down the barriers between communities.

The package of measures he announced include a 4.5 million pounds a year
fund to be allocated to over a 100 community groups in deprived areas to
recruit full time workers to encourage others in their community to get
involved. There will also be a grants initiative to create a one-stop shop
making it much simpler for groups to get grants of up to 10,000 pounds. A
new website, which will go live next month, will provide information on
grants from four government departments the Home Office, Department for
Education and Skills, Department of Health, and Department of Transport,
Local Government and the Regions. Within a year, an interactive portal will
allow community organisations to apply online for grants from all
government departments.

A recent Home office survey found that four in ten people are involved in
civic affairs – including contacting councillors, MPs, local officials,
signing petitions. A slightly higher number are involved in formal
volunteering – giving unpaid help to groups clubs or organisations
amounting to 1.8 billion hours a year.