Futurebuilders, the three-year fund to improve charities' public service delivery, could become permanent.
At the launch of the £125m fund last week, Home Secretary David Blunkett indicated that he was already negotiating with the Treasury to extend its lifespan.
"I've only got eight weeks to persuade the Chancellor that we should do this on a permanent basis," he told delegates in a reference to this summer's comprehensive spending review, which sets government spending plans for 2006 to 2008.
Blunkett lauded Futurebuilders as "an exciting partnership that will bring about real change in the way we deliver public services".
Sir Michael Bichard, chair of the Compact Working Group, said at the launch that the next step for the fund would be to ask the Chancellor for more money. The first tranche of investment in Futurebuilders will last at least until 2007, but 90 per cent of the money will be allocated by July next year.
Futurebuilders chief executive Richard Gutch told Third Sector that there was no reason why the Fund should peter out after three years. "Our vision is that we demonstrate that this is an excellent way of investing in the sector so that the Treasury, other departments - and even other funders - might put more money in," he said. "We want Futurebuilders to become a sustainable fund that grows over time."
Futurebuilders investments will be allocated in three rounds. The first, which will take applications from July to October this year, will distribute 35 per cent of the fund. The second round, from March to July 2005, will allocate 60 per cent, and the last round in autumn 2005 will use the remaining 5 per cent.
Around 250 organisations will be funded, with investments ranging from £30,000 to £10m.
- See Newsmaker, p14.