The government will award about £33m to voluntary organisations that will offer grants and other support to community groups that want to use new rights in the Localism Act, Third Sector has learnt.
The Localism Act introduced a range of rights for local voluntary and community groups, including the right to challenge local decisions about who should deliver public services, to bid for assets of community value and to have more say in neighbourhood planning.
The Communities and Local Government department has set up three contracts under which larger voluntary organisations will be funded to help smaller local community groups use these rights, by giving grants and offering advice and information. Each of the contracts will last for three years.
The largest of the three contracts, worth about £19m, is to support groups using the Right to Bid, under which community groups can bid to take over buildings and amenities deemed to be "assets of community value". These can include local shops, pubs, community centres and libraries.
Another contract, worth about £14m, will support local groups using the Right to Challenge. This allows voluntary and community groups, charities, parish councils and local authority employees to submit an expression of interest in taking over the delivery of a local public service.
The third contract, worth between £500,000 and £750,000, is to support the Right to Build, set up to make it easier for local communities to decide what is built in their area by using a "community referendum".
Third Sector understands that CLG is in the late stages of deciding which organisations will win the three contracts, but has not yet awarded any contracts.
A partnership between the Social Investment Business, Acevo and Locality has bid for the Right to Challenge contract. Locality has also bid to run the Right to Bid and the Right to Build contracts. Acevo and Locality confirmed these details to Third Sector but could not say if they had been successful.
A spokeswoman for CLG said: "No contract has yet been awarded. Further information will be confirmed in due course."