Sector welcomes community empowerment white paper

Representatives of the community sector have welcomed the Government's white paper on community empowerment and local democracy and the £70m Communitybuilders fund to strengthen community organisations.

But there have been calls for the Government to commit to long-term investment in the community sector.

The Communitybuilders fund earmarks £70m, including £11m from the Office of the Third Sector, for community organisations (Third Sector Online, 9 July). Another £7.5m has been set aside for third sector organisations through an Empowerment Fund that will aim to give local communities a political voice. But it is little more than half the £140m that was expected to be earmarked for 'community anchors'.

Investment needed

"It's not the full amount and more will be needed in future," said David Tyler, chief executive of Community Matters. "But it's probably as much as can be spent in the timescale because we have only have two years of the Comprehensive Spending Review period left."

He added that the Government needed to make a long-term commitment to the community sector.

Expressions of interest

Community Alliance – a partnership of Bassac, Community Matters and the Development Trusts Association – welcomed the fund and expressed an interest in being involved.

"We are looking forward to playing a key role in the development of the fund over the coming months," said Bec Clarkson, director of Community Alliance.

Steve Tyler, director of the Development Trust Association, added: "We now hope that the Government selects a fund delivery partner able to take land and buildings into community ownership, create grass-roots social enterprise and transform their community from within."

The Adventure Capital Fund welcomed the tender process and said that it would bid to run the Communitybuilders fund.

"ACF will certainly be putting in a bid for the tender," said Jonathan Lewis, chief executive of ACF. "We know there will be strong competition, which is great for the organisations the fund is designed to support. ACF will work hard to demonstrate its strong track record in making investments that deliver both social and financial returns."

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