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Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark has confirmed that funding for vital community projects through the Communitybuilders scheme will continue into the next financial year, thanks to a £27 million endowment fund

 

The endowment fund will ensure that groups can develop their proposals at their own speed to improve their financial futures through buying and developing assets and providing a range of valuable services for their communities. These include setting up multi-purpose community facilities, mother and toddler groups, adult education classes and family support services. The programme will be signed over from government to be administered and managed by the Adventure Capital Fund from 1 April 2011.

Mr Clark, said:

"We need to make sure that every penny available goes to voluntary and community groups at the best time for them, and that they can access support from across the board. They shouldn't be forced to distort their plans because of central red tape. The endowment fund for Communitybuilders is a victory for common sense as it means that projects will continue to operate and set up future investment opportunities.

"It is a time of change for the sector but with this comes new freedoms, such as less time spent assessing, analysing and reporting back to Whitehall and more time spent on drawing up flexible plans with community leaders on locally led-projects."

Chair of the Adventure Capital Fund, Sir Stephen Bubb said:

"This endowment is great news for a struggling sector. It is a real endorsement of Adventure Capital Fund's pioneering model of social investment over the last decade.

"I want to pay tribute in particular to the minister Greg Clark who recognised the value of making an endowment as a way of levering capital and gave it his crucial backing.

"As a fund which will recycle loan repayments back into the sector, the endowment means we can support many more community organisations into the future.

"So we can continue to provide loans to support people who want to take over the running of their local parks or libraries; to help community organisations who want to refurbish community centres to become financially sustainable; and to grow public service delivery by the third sector."

The £70 million Communitybuilders Fund, previously owned by the Department of Communites and Local Government, is now an endowed fund - owned and administered by the Adventure Capital Fund. It supports neighbourhood-based, community-led organisations to become more sustainable through a mixture of loans, grants and business support. The fund is currently closed to new applications but the organisation expects it to reopen within a few months.

The purpose of the endowment is to allow the Communitybuilders Fund to become fully established for the foreseeable future and to ensure stable and continued management. It will allow for greater efficiency and financial planning, increasing value for money all round. It also creates an evergreen fund where loan repayments are recycled back into the sector, as well as the prospect of growing the fund by topping up the original amount with money from other investors, foundations or even philanthropists.

The Government is supporting local groups by letting them take centre stage in the running of local services and moving away from the dependency on grant funding from taxpayers.

At the heart of the Localism Bill is a suite of measures designed to strengthen the hand of groups wanting to take on a bigger role by entrenching powerful new rights for community groups.

There is also the opportunity for groups to get involved early as councils set their budgets. Ministers have said that it is reasonable to expect that they give voluntary and community groups three months' notice or more when they think they need to end or alter a grant, or other support. Rather than pulling up the drawbridge they should, as a matter of course, be open to suggestions from these groups on alternative ways of redesigning or reshaping the services so that they can continue to be provided even where budgets need to be reduced.

Ministers have urged more transparency about funding and that councils publish what they give in grants and payments to the voluntary and community sector.

 

Source: DCLG

Written by Scott Buckler
Thursday, 31 March 2011 9:09

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