£2.1m for charity sector portal

The Active Community Unit has received £2.1 million to develop a voluntary and community sector portal, an online resource for information about Government funding for the sector.

The portal will also enable voluntary organisations to apply for Government grants via the net.

The Government's e-envoy Andrew Pinder first made a commitment to a voluntary sector portal last November as part of a package of measures to improve charities use of the internet. Funding has now been secured from the latest round of the Treasury's Invest to Save Budget initiative, announced last week. This initiative promotes innovative ways of delivering public services and joint working between different parts of government.

An Active Community Unit spokesman said: "The portal will be the most comprehensive online source for all information relating to funding that is available from the Government for the voluntary and community sector."

Joe Saxton, co-chair of the Voluntary and Community Internet Taskforce, said: "It's very welcome that the Government has provided £2 million to set up a voluntary sector portal. The task now is to ensure that the portal is both easily accessible and well-publicised rather than just being the domain of very large organisations that have found out about it."

"Let's hope it is the first step in establishing the same degree of support for the voluntary sector's use of the internet as it already provided for the private and public sectors. I look forward to "UK Online for Charities",

he said.

A pilot project in Gateshead to enable voluntary and community groups to exploit the internet has also won £378,000 funding from the Invest to Save Budget. The money has been set aside to provide for an "e-inclusion

project. This will consist of equipment, training and consultancy to 50 organisations. The Government also plans to set up a community enterprise to provide technical internet support to not-for-profit groups.

The Treasury has also announced £328,000 funding to develop a web site on partnership between the public and voluntary sectors. The project, led by NCVO and the civil service college, the Centre for Management and Policy Studies, has already been piloted and a web site, www.ourpartnership.org.uk, is now live.

The project will encourage capacity building in the voluntary and community sectors. It will target organisations serving vulnerable groups in particular.

The project will also offer training for public-sector staff to help them adapt to working in partnership with the voluntary sector.

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