Navca gets £2m to help members win contracts

Local infrastructure umbrella group Navca has won more than £2m in lottery grants to help voluntary groups influence local government policy and win service-delivery contracts.

A £1.07m grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Basis programme will be spent on establishing a local commissioning and procurement unit at Navca. The unit, which is expected to launch in July, will work with local infrastructure organisations to help community groups become more involved in designing and delivering public services.

Kevin Curley, chief executive of Navca, said the work of the infrastructure organisations could range from keeping local groups informed about contracting opportunities to supporting service-delivery consortia.

“This new unit will maximise the influence that the third sector has over the commissioning of public services, open up funding opportunities to the sector and help create services more attuned to the needs of local people,” he said.

Another Basis grant of £970,000 will help Navca expand its Improving Local Partnerships Unit, which works with local sector organisations to help marginalised communities influence local government policy.

Curley said that the demand for support from the unit had been much greater than anticipated when the project started.

“Navca members are increasingly being asked to get involved in wider governance arrangements in assist with the development of public service-delivery targets, local area agreements and programmes targeted at the most disadvantaged communities,” he said. “This expansion will increase our ability to support local infrastructure organisations and, through them, the wider third sector.”

Support for children’s groups

Navca has also announced a number of initiatives to help voluntary and community groups respond to the Government’s new Children’s Plan. The plan, which will see local authorities taking over responsibility for funding children’s services, highlights the contribution of the sector but also suggests it could do more to ensure consistent standards.

Navca will be implementing a free e-mail network for sector workers involved in children’s services and a small grants programme to allow them to carry out training and share good practice. The measures will be funded by the Children’s Workforce Development Council.

Curley said: “Many local infrastructure organisations provide excellent support for work with children and young people, but as the Children’s Plan moves activity up a gear so the support available to the third sector will need to grow.”

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