Headlines: May 1st, 2003

The Treasury and the Compact Working Group, have begun the consultation process over how to spend the new 125 million pound Futurebuilders fund set up to assist the voluntary and community sector to deliver public services in areas such as health and social care, education and learning, support for children and young people and crime and social cohesion.Representatives of the voluntary and community sector have been working more closely than ever before with the Government to draw up the proposals contained in the newly-launched consultation document and Paul Boateng, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said the government believed the sector and social enterprises had a central role to play in delivering world-class services.

Key proposals for consultation include a move from grant funding to longer-term investment for the future to overcome the obstacle community and voluntary groups have faced of the lack of access to capital to invest for future development. The document also suggests offering a broader range of finance to include loans, loan guarantees, or a mix of these with grants and encouraging organisations to join with others to make the most of other funding streams.

Mr. Boateng said real strides had been made in the last six years to strengthen the partnership between government and the sector but there was still a lot to be done to ensure that the partnership worked to the best effect. Sir Michael Bichard, chairman of the Compact Working Group said from the outset Futurebuilders has been an innovative and unique undertaking. The proposals in the consultation document were the group’s joint assessment of what was needed and how the fund would work in practice. The consultation exercise runs until July 21st and there will be a series of events throughout England details of which will be available on the Treasury website early this month.