Hubs are cut in review of infrastructure plan

The six national hubs of expertise are to be abolished in a major shake-up of the ChangeUp infrastructure programme.

The hubs will be funded until March 2008, when they will be replaced by new contractors that will deliver the national elements of ChangeUp.

They will work under new contracts for the last year of their existence. Simon Hebditch, chief executive of Capacitybuilders, said this will require them to introduce common accounting and evaluation programmes and iron out conflicts of interest. They will also include arrangements for handing over to new contractors.

Ben Kernighan, deputy chief executive at the NCVO, which is involved in four hubs, said: "We are pleased that Capacitybuilders will continue to fund the hubs to March 2008 - the end of the current government spending period."

Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, which is involved in the governance hub, said that chief executives would be "delighted common sense had prevailed".

The move represents an attempt by Capacitybuilders to take direct control of ChangeUp. "We wanted to be clear that we had accountability for the delivery of the entire programme - locally, regionally and nationally," said Hebditch. "We need to be seen to be in control."

In December Capacitybuilders will also announce a complete review of the role of the 130 local consortia involved in infrastructure programmes as part of a new 'road map' guiding the programme.

The original specialist areas of the hubs - finance, governance, IT, performance, volunteering and workforce - could change completely. Capacitybuilders will consult the sector early next year on what the priorities should be.

Seven or eight new main contractors will be chosen by September. They will be able to deliver the entire programme or subcontract elements of it. National bodies, regional organisations, social enterprises, community interest companies and the private sector will be invited to apply individually or in partnership. In theory, the national hubs could apply for the new contracts. Existing hub staff could be transferred to the new bodies.

But the plans depend on an injection of new funds from the Government.

Capacitybuilders' existing funding runs out in March 2008.

The Government's Comprehensive Spending Review, due for completion in April 2007, will determine how much money the programme will receive in future years.

- See Editorial, page 15.

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