Coalition's aim is a different world for charities

The closure of Capacitybuilders and the Commission for the Compact is part of the government's new strategy for the voluntary sector

Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society
Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society

On Thursday, some of the main government organisations and programmes for the voluntary sector will cease to exist.

Capacitybuilders and the Commission for the Compact will close, the Office for Civil Society Advisory Body will have met for the last time and the strategic partners programme will be replaced by a new scheme that is worth £54.7m less.

Funding for the loan funds Futurebuilders and Communitybuilders will be discontinued and support for the youth volunteering charity v is expected to be scaled back considerably.

All of these initiatives were established by the Labour government and resourced in the 2008 to 2011 spending period.

Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, says the closures are all part of the government's strategy. "We are actively shaping a different world for charities," he says.

"The past was characterised by lots of top-down intervention, big programmes and very heavy government that spread a culture of 'what's the government doing about it?'

"We are interested in something much less top-down, and in new ways of operating."

One of the main changes will be the establishment of closer links with business, says Hurd. "The sector has to open its mind to absorbing skills from the private sector because it clearly needs more business skills," he says.

New government initiatives include the £107m Transition Fund, a £50m match-funding scheme for local endowments, a £42.5m volunteering infrastructure programme, a £15m community organisers programme and a £10m volunteering match fund. A further £52m will be spent on pilots for the National Citizen Service. The £10m unspent in Communitybuilders will become a permanently endowed fund.

But the changes extend beyond practical measures: the new administration is altering the philosophical relationship between state and charity by encouraging voluntary organisations to build the big society and generate more income from running public services while depending less on government grants and intermediary bodies.

This has led to concerns about the strength of its commitment to infrastructure organisations. Hurd says the government recognises their value and "is putting the finishing touches" to new funding.

Does Hurd think the old initiatives were value for money? "The whole thing was symptomatic of a government that was too relaxed about spending taxpayers' money, and it lacked coherence over time," he says.

See interview with Sir Bert Massie about the Commission for the Compact's closure

Read Nick Hurd's verdict on three other quangos that have been axed

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