Match funding will not be 'an absolute requirement' for Community First grants, says Nick Hurd

But minister confirms grants will be restricted to groups in areas of significant deprivation

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

Community groups will not always have to secure local funding before they are able to obtain a matching grant from the government's Community First programme, according to Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society.

The government's Giving Green Paper, published last month, says the £30m grants programme will "encourage the giving of time money, goods, services and facilities for the wider community benefit by matching these donations with money."

But Hurd told Third Sector it would not be "an absolute requirement" to have local funding first. "We hope the fund will incentivise neighbourhood groups to access local money."

The fund is similar to the grants element of the the Grassroots Grants scheme set up by the Labour government. The difference is that the money can be given only to groups in certain areas. The Office for Civil Society has not yet published a list of eligible areas.

The second strand of Community First is £50m of match funding over the next four years to encourage the building up of local endowments.

Hurd said the government was still unable to confirm other details about how the fund will operate, but that it would appoint a partner to deliver it.

He added that the Volunteering Match Fund, announced in the green paper and worth up to £10m a year, would be available only as match funding. "It will act as an incentive to provide private capital," he said.

Kevin Curley, chief executive of local umbrella body Navca, said he welcomed many of the proposals in the green paper, such as the volunteering infrastructure fund and the volunteering match fund. But he said it was unclear whether local community groups would be able to count volunteering hours as part of a match funding application.

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