Inquiry calls for more self-sufficiency, but not more cash

The National Assembly for Wales should improve its voluntary sector funding by reviewing its funding criteria, simplifying applications and developing an online information service, according to an inquiry report released today.

However, the inquiry, the first completed by the National Assembly for Wales’s Communities and Culture Committee, does not call for more funding. Instead, it acknowledges that funding for the sector from the Assembly Government has increased from £79m in 2002/03 to £174m in 2006/07.

The report recommends that the Assembly Government should fund four pilot projects in rural and urban areas to provide training and support to help small voluntary sector organisations become more self-sufficient.

“We feel there are opportunities to help third sector organisations to make better use of their time and energy – for example, by improving access to information on funding and reducing bureaucracy in application procedures,” said Janice Gregory, chair of the committee.

“I anticipate that our report will be widely read within the sector and hope that our recommendations will be accepted by the Assembly Government. I look forward to receiving their response before the end of term.”

Other recommendations:

• The private sector should be encouraged to help voluntary groups to become more sustainable, either by providing sponsorship or by lending staff with specific skills for short-term secondments.

• The Government, local authorities and other public bodies should treat the third sector as a strategic partner when planning, commissioning and delivering public services.

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