Acevo chief Stephen Bubb says the announcement of the £100m fund is 'good news' for the voluntary sector
Civil society minister Nick Hurd has "pulled a rabbit out of the hat" by finding £100m for the Transition Fund, according to Stephen Bubb, head of chief executives body Acevo.
The fund, which will provide support to voluntary sector organisations in England over the next two years, was announced by the Chancellor, George Osborne, in the comprehensive spending review.
"Overall, there is going to be huge pain for the sector, but against that background the fund is good news," Bubb said.
Bubb said he was "highly encouraged" by a Treasury commitment to set public sector targets on the level of services delivered by independent providers, such as the voluntary sector.
Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, said the announcement of transitional support "demonstrates that the government has listened to the sector and understands the important role we will play".
Helen Donoghue, director of the Charity Tax Group, agreed: "They've recognised the pressure on charities by establishing a Transitional Fund. We had asked for £100m in transitional Gift Aid relief and we have received £100m from this fund, so we welcome this."
However, Debra Allcock Tyler, chief executive of policy body the Directory of Social Change, claimed the announcements left a host of unanswered questions for charities.
"The headline decisions have been made, but it will be some time until we know the full implications," she said. "The most important decisions for most charities will come from the reaction of local authorities, in the wake of significant cuts to their settlements."
She added that the sector's campaigning role would become more important. "Whether you agree or disagree with the government’s programme, charities are the ones equipped to respond," she said. "Now is not the time to hold your tongue just because you need that government grant or contract. Now is the time to speak out openly and truthfully about how these changes affect your beneficiaries."
Kevin Curley, chief executive of local infrastructure group Navca, said he hoped that recent appeals by senior members of the government, including the Prime Minister, for councils not to pass on cuts to charities would soften the impact on voluntary organisations of a 26 per cent reduction in local authority funding.
With regard to Scotland, John Downie, director of public affairs at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, said he hoped the Scottish government would implement a measure similar to the Transition Fund, which was only for organisations in England.
"The challenge for the Scottish government now is to avoid panic cuts," he said. "Any cuts to Scotland's charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises would damage the ability of our sector to continue to work at the front line in protecting the most vulnerable people in our society. Our sector offers real workable solutions to the social and economic problems we face as a country."