Office for Civil Society gives former strategic partners new advisory roles

Organisations including Voice4Change England and Community Matters will focus on the impact of big society policies

Office for Civil Society
Office for Civil Society

The Office for Civil Society has given contracts to several of its former strategic partners, including Voice4Change England and Community Matters, to continue advising the department on policy.

In March the OCS cut the number of strategic partners from 42 to 17, of which 12 were in partnerships.

However, the department has now given a 12-month contract to Community Matters, which received £261,603 from the programme in 2010/11 but was not retained as a partner in March.

It has also commissioned Voice4Change England, which received £275,953 under the strategic partnership programme in 2009/10 and has campaigned against the OCS decision to end its funding, to provide advice on how the big society agenda can address inequality.

Both organisations said they could not yet reveal how much money they will receive. A spokesman for the Cabinet Office would not give any further details. "An announcement will be made in due course," he said.

Rosie Anderson, policy and research manager at Community Matters, said the contract was to advise the department on "big society policy and its impact on the community sector". It would focus on encouraging volunteering, shaping the Communities First grants programme and advising on the community right to buy and the right to challenge, both in the Localism Bill.

She said the OCS had asked her not to say how much funding it would receive, because other charities would be given new contracts to continue advising it on policy and some of these had not yet been told the details of the contracts.

Vandna Gohil, director of Voice4Change England, told Third Sector: "The voice of BME communities will be heard at top decision-making tables and this is what we were campaigning for. We will champion and support the BME voluntary and community sector to build a big, inclusive society."

It is understood that both charities will use the funding for specific projects that have been agreed by the OCS, but details of these projects have not yet been revealed.

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