Blears to announce community investment package

Support for transfer of disused buildings to community groups

The Government will launch a package of community investment measures including support for the transfer of disused buildings to community groups, the communities and local government secretary Hazel Blears will announce today.

In a speech for the Edith Kahn Memorial Lecture, hosted by volunteering charity CSV at the House of Commons, she will say that "sustainable sources of income for local groups to run local facilities and services" will be launched this summer.

The Communities and Local Government department announced last year that the Development Trusts Association would be given £1.3m to administer a new asset transfer unit, which would advise community organisations on how to take over disused buildings, such as village halls, from local authorities.

Hazel Blears will also say that there is a need for greater "participatory budgeting", in which local charities and community groups would be involved by public authorities "in big decisions about how money is spent".

The voluntary sector will play a decisive role in making sure that the recession brings communities together rather than driving them apart, Blears will say, by "keeping people in touch with the world of work, providing skills training, bringing people together, and giving people inspiration and hope".

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