£70m Communitybuilders fund has spent nothing so far

Tories demand explanation from Cabinet Office minister Liam Byrne

Shadow charities minister Nick Hurd has asked the Government to explain why the £70m Communitybuilders fund has yet to make any investments almost a year after it was established.

The fund, which is jointly administered by the Communities and Local Government department and the Office of the Third Sector, will issue grants and loans to voluntary organisations for projects that stimulate local democracy and decision-making.

The initiative was announced in July last year and in October organisations were invited to bid to run it. Futurebuilders and Capacitybuilders are believed to be interested.

Hurd told the Commons that voluntary organisations needed support "more than ever" during the recession and asked Cabinet Office minister Liam Byrne to "tell us when the fund will deliver something more than a press release".

Byrne replied: "It is important to appreciate that not only ministers like me are in charge of writing the cheques.

"It is important to give an arm's length organisation the task of running the fund and understanding how the money is best deployed.

"Sometimes going through the process of contracting for that delivery partner can take time.

"We make no excuses for getting the right partner in place to get the money flowing,"

Hurd told Third Sector he was "deeply unimpressed" by the time taken.

"The gap between PR and delivery is unacceptable," he said. "They have sat on this money for a year."

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