Cabinet Office awarded £100,000 to support two sector mergers that never happened

It gave a grant of £75,000 to Navca to explore a merger with Voice4Change England, and one of £20,000 to the Institute of Fundraising to look into joining up with the Institute of Legacy Management

Cabinet Office
Cabinet Office

The Cabinet Office gave out grants totalling almost £100,000 to support two voluntary sector mergers that never happened, official figures show.

The Government Grants Register for 2013/14, published in January, shows that the department gave £75,000 to the local infrastructure body Navca for a merger with the BME representative body Voice4Change England and £20,000 to the Institute of Fundraising to explore a merger with the Institute of Legacy Management.

The proposed merger between Navca and V4CE was dropped last year and the proposal for the ILM to become part of the IoF was shelved after some ILM members objected to the move.

The grants came from a £500,000 fund set up to support consolidation and mergers between voluntary sector organisations that used to receive funding from the Office for Civil Society under its strategic partners programme, which ended in April 2014.

Organisations interested in receiving money from this fund, called the Structural Reform Support Fund, were asked to submit proposals to the OCS.

A Navca spokesman said the organisation had started discussions with V4CE about a possible merger and approached the OCS for some funds because it had heard that the department was making funds available to support mergers between national charities.

"Mergers involve a lot of up-front costs and this grant from the Office for Civil Society was to help us and Voice4Change have the time and space to explore the potential of merger," he said. "Although we share many common aims, this work helped us to realise that a merger was not right in this instance. It did, however, strengthen our partnership working."

V4CE said in a statement that carrying out merger talks was an "expensive, complex and time-consuming activity".

The statement said: "Voice4Change England and Navca had been involved in several months of exploratory talks considering how the two organisations could be more supportive of each other through a possible merger.

"Though the merger did not happen, the exercise opened up new possibilities for collaborative work at a strategic level, demonstrated, for example, by collaborating on the Alternative Perspectives national race equality conference and the Local Infrastructure Commission.

"We were therefore grateful for the support on offer from OCS to enable this to take place."

The £20,000 given to the IoF for its merger with the ILM was noted when the proposal was first announced in April 2014.

A spokesman for the IoF said the funds were spent on exploring the merger with the ILM.

"The purpose of the grant was to conduct legal and accountancy due diligence in relation to a possible merger with the Institute of Legacy Management," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office said that the applications for funding for the two mergers were both considered to be good fits under the SRSF and were approved by Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society at the time.

"The grant provided Navca and V4CE the opportunity to fully explore the potential for merger," she said. "The result of this process was that it was decided a merger was not appropriate."

She said the IoF money was a restricted grant to cover legal and financial due-diligence costs for exploring the potential of the merger, and the IoF sought funding from other bodies for other aspects of the merger.

"The legal and financial due-diligence work was undertaken by the IoF but the merger did not ultimately take place after consultation on the plans with ILM's members," she said.

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