Seventy-two partnerships made up of local voluntary sector support groups have received funds from the Office for Civil Society’s £30m Transforming Local Infrastructure fund, set up to help infrastructure bodies work together more closely.
The largest grants were given to Ealing CVS in west London, which received £965,000 for a partnership that includes groups in Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon and Hounslow, and Voluntary Action Leicester, which received £941,996 for a partnership that covers Leicestershire and Rutland.
Groups in areas including Cambridge, Westminster and Newcastle-upon-Tyne were not on the list of successful organisations. A full list of successful bids can be found here.
Simon Bowkett, business and services development manager at Exeter CVS, was involved in a successful Devon-wide bid involving 12 partners, including eight CVS bodies, that was awarded £392,000. He said it planned to "create a single delivery vehicle" for infrastructure in the county.
He said the 12 groups could merge in future, but there had not been enough time before the deadline for applications to the fund to get all 12 boards to agree to a merger.
The fund, which was announced in the government’s Giving White Paper in May and is being administered by the Big Fund, the non-lottery funding operation of the Big Lottery Fund, was set up to support "transformational" activities, such as pooling resources, sharing services and forming better links with local businesses. It will not fund existing work.
An Office for Civil Society spokeswoman said the successful projects included plans to make it easier for people to volunteer, to help social entrepreneurs, to help charities take over community assets and to increase support from the private sector.
In a statement, civil society minister Nick Hurd said: "This fund is not designed to support business as usual. It is about making things better for the front line. It’s about supporting organisations with innovative business plans who want to play their part in modernising the landscape of local infrastructure."
Joe Irvin, chief executive of the local infrastructure umbrella group Navca, said: "We always knew only a limited number of awards were available. We will be working with the successful areas to help them make the most of this opportunity. For those members in areas that have been unsuccessful, we will help them find other ways to be able to maintain and improve services."
The Big Lottery Fund is also planning to set up a separate £20m programme to fund support services for the voluntary sector, and will publish details of the scheme later this year.