Hurd urged to reinstate strategic partnership funding to equalities groups

Letter from Sir Stuart Etherington of the NCVO says the groups are vital for representing marginalised communities

Nick Hurd
Nick Hurd

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, has urged civil society minister Nick Hurd to reinstate strategic partnership funding to some of the equalities organisations that lost out when the programme was scaled back in March.

In March, the Office for Civil Society announced that it would provide strategic partnership funding to 17 charities in 2011/12, compared with 42 the previous year.

None of the 17 was an equalities group, which meant that the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations, the East of England Black and Minority Ethnic Network, the Women’s Resource Centre and the Consortium of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Voluntary and Community Organisations all lost their strategic partnership funding.

In a letter to Hurd, seen by Third Sector, Etherington says: "We believe the role of equalities organisations is essential to effectively shape and inform government policy."

The letter says these groups need resources in order to represent the interests of marginalised groups.

"A constructive way forward might be for the government to fund a consortium of equalities organisations in order to strengthen the voice of these organisations and ensure that the full diversity of the voluntary and community sector is heard," it says.

An NCVO spokeswoman said she was not aware of an existing consortium of the equalities groups, but an indication from Hurd that some strategic partnership funding could be made available might prompt the groups to set up a consortium.

In an interview with Third Sector last month, Vandna Gohil, director of the equality campaigning organisation Voice4Change, said she had asked charities to support her campaign for strategic partnership status to be reinstated for some equalities groups.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said it had not yet received the letter so was unable to comment.

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