Voluntary groups allowed to carry over unspent partnership money

Voluntary and community groups will be able to
carry over all of their first-year community empowerment fund (CEF)
money to the second year of the programme, following a u-turn by
the neighbourhood renewal unit last week.

The CEF is intended to help develop the
infrastructure of the voluntary sector so it can participate in
local strategic partnerships in the country’s 88 most deprived

The change will allay fears in the sector that
unspent money would be clawed back by the Treasury. Under original
guidance, voluntary sector groups were told they had to spend at
least half of the money by April or lose it. But it was feared that
the 10-month delay in its distribution would not have allowed them
enough time to spend it effectively (News, page 16, 14

John Routledge, chief executive of Urban
Forum, the voluntary sector umbrella group which has been
campaigning for the carry-over to be increased from 50 per cent to
100 per cent, said: “It means that local groups can plan how to use
the money properly and will allow time for proper consultation
about how to spend it.”

The Department for Transport, Local Government
and the Regions has also made a submission to the comprehensive
spending review to extend the three-year CEF.

Welcoming the submission, Routledge said: “The
neighbourhood renewal strategy is looking at changes that can be
made within 10 to 20 years. The community empowerment fund lasts
only three years. It will take that long for it to get up and
running and if it ends after three years we will lose its

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the New Deal
for Communities programme, set up three years ago to give people
the chance to say how their areas should be regenerated over 10
years, will spend only £80m of its allocated £129m by

A spokesman for the DTLR said the underspend
by the 39 projects involved in the scheme was expected, and is a
result of the projects’ “longer lead-in times”.

But he added: “The money for the NDC programme
is secure because it is ring-fenced. There is no way that any of it
will be lost.”

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