Funding peril for regional BME networks

They will lose £395,000 when infrastructure quango Capacitybuilders closes next year

Arjumand Kazmi, head of policy, Voice4Change
Arjumand Kazmi, head of policy, Voice4Change

Seven of the eight black and minority ethnic regional infrastructure networks will struggle to survive after 31 March, according to Voice4Change England.

The networks, which represent and support BME charities in English regions, will lose a total of £395,000 when the infrastructure quango Capacitybuilders closes.

They are meeting this week to discuss alternative sources of income. Only the north-east network, Becon, has secured significant new funding.

"The end of Capacitybuilders' core funding is a blow to the essential representation and support services they provide to the fragile and often unheard BME voluntary and community sector," said Arjumand Kazmi, the head of policy at Voice4Change, a national support organisation for BME charities.

Voice4Change itself will lose Capacitybuilders funding and is yet to hear if it will be retained as a funded strategic partner by the Office for Civil Society. Other generic regional networks, such as the London body LVSC, will also lose funds but have generally been established longer and have more reserves. LVSC expects its income to halve to less than £1m and has shed four staff.

Richard Caulfield, the chief executive of Voluntary Sector North West, said: "Fortunately we have strong reserves and significant lottery funding, which means we can operate for another 12 months from April 2011 with a slightly reduced staff team."

The amounts networks will lose are: Birmingham Race Action Partnership, £54,300; Black South West Network, £37,500; Becon, £44,000; Minority Ethnic Network, £93,000; Uni Network, £42,500; One North West, £25,000; One East Midlands, £59,000; Menter, £40,000.

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