Loan fund to help charities bid for contracts

Futurebuilders is to establish a £10m fund to help charities deliver more offender management services.

The Government-backed fund will offer loans to not-for-profit organisations in response to concerns that the voluntary sector should be playing a far greater role in offender services.

The announcement of the fund coincides with news that chief executives body Acevo and the Ministry of Justice are jointly establishing a task force to investigate the role of third sector organisations in delivering offender management services.

The Government pledged to farm out 10 per cent of offender management services to a mixture of voluntary and private sector providers two years ago. But the Ministry of Justice dropped the target in March (Third Sector Online, 28 March).

Not-for-profit and private organisations currently deliver about 5.5 per cent of offender services. The task force will investigate the barriers to this being increased and establish whether the 10 per cent target can be revived.

The developments come after talks held this week between justice secretary Jack Straw and Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo and chair of the Adventure Capital Fund, which manages the £215m Futurebuilders fund on behalf of the Government.

"The culture of the probation service is dominated by people who do not like third sector providers and believe provision by the state is better," said Bubb. "Acevo will argue strongly that the 10 per cent target should remain. Third sector organisations are better placed to provide efficient services in this area."

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