DoH announces replacement to Section 64 grants scheme

The Department of Health is changing its main grants scheme for the voluntary sector, it announced today.

The new system, known as the Third Sector Investment Programme, has opened for applications and will begin making awards next year.

It replaces Section 64 grants for charities that deliver services on behalf of the DoH.

The announcement comes after a consultation with more than 700 third sector organisations on how the DoH could improve its funding of the health and social care charity sector.

Two years ago, charities threatened legal action against the DoH for delaying Section 64 grants.

The new programme has two strands: a strategic partner programme and an innovation, excellence and service development fund.

For the former, the DoH will recruit up to 10 strategic partners from the voluntary sector and pay them to ensure better communication between charities and the DoH.

The innovation, excellence and service development fund will pay for national projects that contribute to the DoH objectives of improving health and wellbeing.

Ivan Lewis, the care services minister, said the new funding arrangements would make funding "more transparent and effective".

The DoH has not yet revealed details of how much funding charities can apply for or the total value of each fund, but it said "funding support for the third sector from the department with remain the same".

This year, the DoH awarded £24m in Section 64 grants to charities that deliver services on its behalf.

Ann Blackmore, head of policy at the NCVO, hailed the new arrangements for giving the third sector a greater say in funding arrangements.

"We have long called for reforms to the process of commissioning to ensure that our members have the opportunity to contribute their knowledge, skills and expertise to the provision of healthcare."

But she said a final verdict would depend on the detail.

John Plummer recommends

Department of Health

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