Partnership pilot to go nationwide

Mathew Little

A programme to encourage a better working relationship between local councils and voluntary organisations is set to be extended to 50 local authority areas.

The Partnership Improvement Programme, a joint initiative between the Improvement and Development Agency and Aston Centre for Voluntary Action Research, was piloted in 10 areas between October 2005 and April this year.

It involved senior figures in local authorities alongside councils for voluntary service, rural community councils and volunteer centres.

Organisers have claimed the pilots resulted in concrete gains such as funding reviews, cross-sector job swaps and "radical rethinking of governance and representation".

"There is a great willingness to work together, but there are also many practical barriers, some of which come from central government's agenda," said Ben Cairns, director of the Aston Centre.

If funding is confirmed, the scheme will be extended to 50 local authority areas over the next three years.

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