New provisos for grant aid rejected

    The government has rejected recommendations to force community and
    voluntary organisations to work across cultural divides as a
    condition of grant aid.

    The move would be “unnecessary and possibly bureaucratic”, it said
    in response to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister select
    committee’s sixth report on social cohesion.

    It said existing Local Government Association guidance on community
    cohesion – which encourages councils to “provide incentives to
    promote community cohesion and cross-cultural contact and
    understanding” – was sufficient. Council officers should make
    decisions case by case, it added.

    It said: “Efforts should be made to ensure community centres cater
    for a range of cultural groups rather than separate centres
    provided for different groups”.

    The National Association of Councils for Voluntary Service warned
    in May about forcing the sector to cross cultural divides (news,
    page 12, 20 May).

    Its chief executive, Kevin Curley, welcomed the announcement. “We
    were afraid further guidance would suggest to councils they should
    not fund ethnic minority groups. Public policy should encourage
    cross-cultural activities to maintain social cohesion but also
    allow minority groups to operate separately.”

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