Communities relieved by £80m grants programme

The Chancellor's announcement of an £80m fund to supply grants to community groups could provide much-needed resources for organisations fearful of cuts to small grants programmes.

The fund, to be distributed over four years, has emerged after submissions by the Local Community Sector Taskforce to the Government's Third Sector Review.

"Local voluntary groups have lost their Community Chests and their Single Regeneration Budget pots," said Kevin Curley, chief executive of umbrella body Navca. "This is a small fund, just £20m a year, but our members will be able to use it to lever more grant aid out of local strategic partnerships and local area agreements."

Jay Kennedy, project manager at www.government at the Directory of Social Change, said: "There are fewer and fewer small grants programmes, and there is concern that they are being phased out.

"Grant programmes from local authorities always include restrictions on the use of the money. The sector must be able to apply for funding suited to its requirements."

The fund will be administered by the Office of the Third Sector and grants will be allocated by local grant-makers. The Community Alliance, a coalition of four sector bodies, said it viewed the fund as "the first phase of a more focused attempt to boost community infrastructure investment".

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