Commission 'is addressing problems well' | New grant-maker launches first fund | Big society 'has weakened sector'

Local infrastructure bodies 'too busy coping with own problems' to change | Ex-chief executive criticises regulator's leadership over Cup Trust | 700 gather to remember Stephen Lloyd

The Charity Commission has made good early progress in addressing criticisms of its performance made in a 2013 report, according to the National Audit Office. However, in the follow-up to an earlier report that said the Commission was failing in its key roles and not providing value for money, the watchdog also said that significant challenges still lie ahead.

A new grant-making foundation set up with a £150m endowment from the Big Lottery Fund, has launched its first grants programme. Power to Change, which gained charitable status last week, is offering grants of at least £50,000 over the next six months to community businesses that already operate in England. The BLF said it would be the the largest independent grant-making foundation of its kind in Europe.

The big society agenda has had a "mostly negative" effect on the voluntary sector, leaving it weakened rather than strengthened, according to a report from the think tank Civil Exchange. In the last of its three big society audits, CE assesses the performance of the initiative against a total of 21 goals and says there were negative outcomes against all but four of these.

 Local voluntary sector infrastructure must adapt to a changing landscape but is "too busy coping with its own problems", according to a report from Navca’s Independent Commission on the Future of Local Infrastructure. The commission, chaired by Sara Llewellin, chief executive of the grant-maker the Barrow Cadbury Trust, says local infrastructure organisations must move on from being providers of services to become enablers and brokers.

Andrew Hind, the former chief executive of the Charity Commission, has criticised the regulator’s leadership in the Cup Trust affair and said it was shameful that it did not speak out against the lobbying act. An article by Hind, who was the regulator’s first chief executive from 2004 to 2010, says that the Cup Trust tax-avoidance scandal in 2013 was caused by "bad judgement and inadequate leadership from the senior executive team and the board".

More than 700 people attended a memorial service in London this week to remember the life of Stephen Lloyd, the distinguished charity lawyer who died in a sailing accident in August, aged 63. Tributes from friends, family and colleagues emphasised his enthusiasm, his innovative thinking and his belief in creating a fairer and better society.

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