Advisory 'hubs' told to rethink business plans

Three of the six consortia that submitted business plans for the national 'hubs' intended to give specialist support and advice to the voluntary sector have been told to go back to the drawing board.

The Home Office has asked the groups drawing up proposals for the workforce development, ICT and performance improvement hubs to alter their business plans because they do not meet government investment criteria and guidance.

"Stakeholders have accepted this decision and recognise that there is more work to be done," said a Home Office spokesman. "It is anticipated that revised business plans will be submitted in May."

However, the Government has agreed in principle to the business plans for the other three hubs in its ChangeUp programme: volunteering, finance and governance.

The news came after the Charities Aid Foundation, which leads the finance hub, announced last week that Home Office ministers had approved a £2.5m programme over two years to provide information and advice on the financing of the sector.

But the Home Office immediately denied that any money had been allocated.

Even those hubs that had been approved in principle had not been given any official go-ahead yet, said a spokeswoman: "Some issues of detail within these plans are still being considered and an announcement will be made shortly."

Under pressure from the Home Office, CAF removed the £2.5m figure from its press release, but denied it had jumped the gun. "We have done this out of courtesy," said Graham Leigh, senior policy officer at CAF.

"We don't feel we have done anything wrong. They told us there are no plans for this not to happen and that this figure won't change."

- See Editorial, page 22.

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