Government steps in with money to avoid collapse of voluntary groups

A £500,000 emergency fund has been set up
by the government to save a number of voluntary groups that face
collapse because councils have cut their funding.

The announcement of the money, by home
secretary David Blunkett at a conference last week, came with a
warning that it would be a one-off contribution and that councils
must not shirk their responsibilities to the voluntary sector in

Emphasising the importance of the voluntary
sector in regenerating communities, Blunkett said: “We are having
to provide emergency funding to save volunteer bureaux community
organisations because some councils are providing insufficient

He added that voluntary organisations were key
to building active communities and “local authorities should look
at how to do more to fund voluntary and community organisations up
and down the country”.

The decision to establish the fund, which will
be administered by the Home Office-based active community unit,
follows a submission of research to the Home Office by the National
Association of Voluntary Bureaux and the National Association of
Councils for Voluntary Service last month which indicated that
members were facing closure because local authorities had withdrawn
funding needed to meet their core costs. Money from the fund will
be available in a month and NAVB and NACVS members will be expected
to submit applications. The Home Office and the Department for
Transport, Local Government and the Regions will jointly write to
the councils involved reminding them of their responsibilities to
fund the voluntary sector.

Chris Penberthy, chief executive of the NAVB,
20 of whose members will be saved by the fund, said the
announcement was “fantastic and will save a lot of good

But Ann Blackmore, head of policy at the
National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said although the new
money was a start, government now needed to tackle the problem on a
long-term basis.

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