The value of grants given by local authorities to voluntary sector organisations increased by almost £1bn in four years, according to figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Answering a written parliamentary question from Andrew Griffiths, the Conservative MP for Burton, Brandon Lewis, the local government minister, said DCLG estimates showed that grants to voluntary bodies were £2.627bn in 2011/12 compared with £1.693bn in 2008/09.
Lewis said that grants to voluntary bodies from local authorities totalled £1.839bn in 2009/10 and £1.945bn in 2010/11.
The figures were based on data supplied to DCLG by a sample of about 120 local authorities, a DCLG spokeswoman said.
She said the officials who compiled the data were unable to hypothesise as to why the figures showed an increase in spending on voluntary sector grants.
"Ministers have sent strong messages to councils in the past about the importance of recognising the importance of a strong, thriving voluntary sector as the key to providing high quality, good value services to residents," she said. "These figures suggest that perhaps that message was heeded."
But Joe Irvin, chief executive of the local infrastructure body Navca, said no one really believed local government funding for charities was rising and said he hoped that minister did not place their faith "in such outlandish statistics".
"I suspect changes in the way figures are calculated may have caused this odd figure," he said.
"Remembering my maths lessons in school, I was always told that if an answer didn’t look right to go back and look again at how I worked it out. DCLG should do this."
Figures published yesterday by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations indicate that charities could lose £1.7bn in public funding between 2010/11 and 2017/18.