Five core ICT hub members will receive two-thirds of funding

Tania Mason

Two-thirds of the £4m allocated by the Home Office to the ICT hub is to go to the hub's five core members: the NCVO, AbilityNet, IT4 Communities, Lasa and NACVS.

The hub's business plan, which has been made public after being withheld for months, reveals that 64 per cent of the work will be delivered by the core partners, with the other 36 per cent put out to tender.

Nicky Thompson, head of ICT development at the NCVO, denied there was any conflict of interest inherent in the core members keeping two-thirds of the money.

"We are not awarding this money to ourselves," she said. "The Home Office awarded it to us to carry out our business plan after a competitive bidding process. It thought our consortium was best placed to carry out this work, and that's what we are doing."

The business plan does not state clearly how much each member body will receive in total, because staffing and overhead costs are not broken down in each one's costings. But it does reveal that the five organisations will have, between them, 20 staff working on the hub. Most will be full-time and 12 posts will be new.

Lasa and the NCVO are to share responsibility for creating and maintaining the ICT hub website, likely to be the first port of call for charities wishing to access hub advice and resources. This is budgeted to cost £246,950.

The NCVO will also run conferences on best practice that will cost £83,520.

AbilityNet is to produce 20,000 information packs and guidance booklets on CD-Rom at a cost of £170,900, and fund regional accessibility champions to the tune of £211,500. Total overhead costs such as finance, heating, rent and insurance for all five members amounts to £416,000.

Hub members will also be able to bid for commissioned work but must declare their interest early and cannot take part in the commissioning process even if they do not end up submitting a bid.

David Carrington, the consultant who investigated the dispute between the hub and rival ICT coalition Citra earlier this year, will oversee the commissioning process.

The plan also states, in response to the Home Office stipulation that "key stakeholders should work together", that the hub and Citra have "agreed to collaborate where appropriate".

But John Tate, chair of Citra, said he had had no contact with the hub since a meeting at the Home Office in May, suggesting that relations between the two groups remain strained.

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