Help us through recession, forum urges ministers

Umbrella body for south west recommends regional and central funds to protect voluntary sector

The Government has been urged to establish nine regional funds, each backed by £10m, and a £250m central fund to help voluntary organisations cope with the recession.

The recommendations are contained in a letter from South West Forum, which represents the voluntary sector in the south west, to Kevin Brennan, the Minister for the Third Sector.

Brennan is expected to unveil a third sector action plan next month that sets out what help the Government will offer charities during the recession.

Steve Woollett, chief executive of South West Forum, said regional and national funds would help charities that were struggling to meet demand for their services.

"There seems to be recognition that the sector has a role to play, but it doesn't have the resources," said Woollett.

South West Forum also called for the voluntary sector to be involved in any regional task groups that are set up to respond to the downturn, for government agencies to be required to speed up payments to third sector organisations and for local authorities to be incentivised to establish grants programmes that help the voluntary sector respond rapidly to emerging needs.

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