Analysis: Government spending on the third sector takes shape

The Giving Green Paper answers more of the questions about the Office for Civil Society budget

Third sector government spending
Third sector government spending

The voluntary sector has been asking how the money will be spent ever since last year's comprehensive spending review allocated £470m over the next four years to the Office for Civil Society.

Before publication of the Giving Green Paper, only the £100m Transition Fund and a few other programmes had been nailed down.

The paper and subsequent announcements have now added more details to the picture: a £42.5m fund for volunteering infrastructure, a £10m match fund for volunteering projects and £80m for the Community First programme.

The Community First fund, like the Grassroots Grants scheme set up by the Labour government, is split into match funding for local endowments and grants for community groups.

Under Grassroots Grants, the pots of funding were worth £50m and £80m respectively; under Community First they are worth £50m and £30m. The other big difference from the Grassroots Grants programme is that the local grants element of Community First funding will be available only to groups in deprived areas, which the government has not yet named.

The volunteering match fund, worth £10m a year, will go to projects that can also raise money from businesses or individuals. They will have to submit applications to the OCS explaining why they deserve the money. An OCS spokesman said the fund would be for projects to develop volunteering, rather than for charities that use volunteers in the normal course of their work. He said the OCS had not yet published its criteria for applications to the fund.

The £42.5m volunteering infrastructure fund has been set up to support volunteer brokerage and groups that manage volunteers. The money will be given to groups based in England over a four-year period. The OCS will hold a competitive tender process to find an organisation to distribute the funds. Volunteering England, which oversees the network of local volunteer centres, has already signalled an interest in the fund.

Its chief executive, Justin Davis Smith, said: "We are in touch with the government to get greater clarity about the fund, which we see as a good opportunity for our members."

Debbie Usiskin, vice-chair of the Association of Volunteer Managers, said: "The match funding for volunteering projects means charities will design new schemes to win the government's approval, rather than to best serve their beneficiaries."

BIG BREAKDOWN - How the money is being divided up

Total budget: £470m:

Transition Fund: £100m
Volunteering infrastructure programme: £42.5m
Community First programme: £80m
Local endowments: £50m
Neighbourhood groups: £30m
Unallocated funds: £213m
National Citizen Service pilot projects: £15m
Volunteering match fund: £10m
Strategic partners programme: £7.5m
Community organisers: (£2m unconfirmed)

Other expected expenditure

Incentivising philanthropy: pounds ?m
Mutuals and cooperatives: pounds ?m
Setting up the Big Society Bank: pounds ?m
Sector infrastructure: pounds ?m

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