New lottery distributor has public service role

The new lottery distributor to spring from the merger of the Community Fund and New Opportunities Fund will give grants supporting voluntary sector involvement in public service delivery.

Stephen Dunmore, chief executive of the New Opportunities Fund, told the Third Sector/Action Planning 'Funding the Future' conference last week that the new distributor "will certainly have a role in supporting service delivery by voluntary sector bodies once it's up and running.

"The new distributor might distribute non-lottery money, which may be part of the new powers given to the distributor," he said. "That is quite interesting in the context of the voluntary sector's increasing role ... in getting involved in service delivery."

Dunmore is running head-to-head against his counterpart at the Community Fund, Richard Buxton, for the top job at the new Fund, with the winner to be to be announced on 24 November. Both candidates outlined their vision for the new organisation at the conference.

Dunmore added that the new distributor would consider how to "fit in with" the Treasury's £125m Futurebuilders scheme to enable the sector to deliver more public services.

Buxton called for a debate on whether the Fund's six-year maximum cap on funding should be lifted. "Of course there is a big trade-off there," he said. "If we are in the business of providing longer-term streams of funding, then the number of projects that we are going to fund will significantly be reduced."

The three-month consultation on plans for the new distributor closes at the end of this month. The administrative merger will take place next Spring, with legislation to formally create the distributor towards the end of 2004.

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