Urban Forum calls for greater sector representation

The third sector could become marginalised if it is not better represented on government advisory bodies, Urban Forum has warned.

The umbrella body for regeneration groups said the Third Sector Partnership Board, set up by the Communities and Local Government department to improve communication with the sector, had an unfair balance of local government and third sector members.

An Urban Forum statement said CLG should increase third sector representation not only on the partnership board, but also across all government advisory bodies.

"CLG has numerous other forums for engaging with local government that do not include third sector representatives," it said. "It would be inappropriate to have local government representatives on the board without also increasing third sector representation on other existing advisory groups."

Toby Blume, chief executive of Urban Forum, said charities could be sidelined on issues such as planning and housing because they could be dealt with by separate committees. "The sector needs to ensure its voice is heard on the full range of policies that may affect it," he said.

Urban Forum recently added its weight to a campaign calling for CLG to abandon plans to allow only organisations with annual incomes of at least £400,000 to apply to its Empowerment Fund for national third sector organisations that support community groups.

"If this approach was widely adopted it would be incredibly damaging for the community sector," said Blume.

More than 50 charities signed a letter protesting against the proposal, which was contained in a consultation about the fund that closed last month (Third Sector, 17 September, page 1).

A CLG spokeswoman said: "The consultation only closed on 30 September and we haven't had time yet to fully process all points raised within it."

The department would respond to the comments in due course, she added.

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