A stand-alone programme for volunteering, previously dropped amid a storm of protest from volunteering organisations, has been reinstated as one of the nine.
The other programmes will cover performance management, income generation, equalities and diversity, collaboration and partnership, adapting to social change, marketing and communications, campaigning and advocacy, and leadership and governance. The changes will come into force from April.
Capacitybuilders said the decision, taken on the recommendation of a special advisory group led by board member Julia Kaufmann, would “simplify and streamline the provision of national support services”.
The move also means a three-week delay in the publication of the invitations to tender, which were due out this week.
Capacitybuilders had proposed to replace the six national hubs with four national support services, under the themes of finance and resources, people and skills, performance and voice, which would focus on campaigning.
Justin Davis Smith, acting chief executive of Volunteering England, welcomed the move to give volunteering its own theme. “We believe this is the right decision because it acknowledges the key role of volunteering in the third sector as well as its equality with other key strategic areas,” he said.
Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, said he was glad to see the back of the hubs, which he described as an “inglorious episode”. He said: “I think the sector will be breathing a sigh of relief at this decision.”
Ben Kernighan, deputy chief executive at the NCVO, which houses four of the six existing hubs and jointly manages one, said he supported the nine new programmes, but raised some concerns.
“There are no programmes about good employment practice and ICT, which research consistently shows are amongs the biggest skills gaps facing organisations,” he said. “We are concerned that they have set for themselves yet another unrealistic timetable.”