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January 15, 2007

Taskforce calls for £50m local pot

Up to £50 million a year should be provided to increase community involvement in local decision-making, a government-backed taskforce recommended this week.

Jamie Carpenter

Taskforce calls for £50m local pot


 


Jamie Carpenter


Regeneration & Renewal


12.01.07


 


 


Up to £50 million a year should be provided to increase community involvement in local decision-making, a government-backed taskforce recommended this week.


 


The report by the Local Community Sector Taskforce – set up by the Treasury in 2004 to find ways to help community groups cope with the winding down of the Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) – calls for the establishment of “community micro-grants”.


 


It says that grants totalling £35 million to £50 million a year between 2007-10 should be offered to community groups “to develop social capital and build community capacity, including the training of community leaders”.


 


The community micro-grants scheme is one of a package of measures proposed in the taskforce’s report. It also calls for £50 million to be earmarked in this year’s Comprehensive Spending Review to help community organisations engage more effectively with local strategic partnerships.


 


In addition, the report recommends that the Government launches a campaign to promote the benefits of community ownership and management of assets.


 


It also calls for the Adventure Capital Fund, an investment fund for community-led enterprises, to be expanded from its current size of £15 million to £30 million.


 


Taskforce member Neil Cleeveley, director of information and policy at umbrella body the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action, said: “The Government is talking a lot about community engagement – it seems to us that there ought to be something put back into the development of community organisations.”


 


Another taskforce member, Toby Blume, chief executive of umbrella organisation Urban Forum, welcomed the report’s recommendations, but expressed frustration over the time the taskforce had taken to report.


 


He said: “The taskforce was set up over two years ago to address the urgent challenge of the wind-down of the SRB. As a taskforce, we failed to address that, despite frequent strong protestations from taskforce members from the sector.”


 


A spokeswoman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said it will be considering the report’s recommendations as it prepares a strategy for engaging with the third sector.


 


– Report from the Local Community Sector Taskforce is available via www.regen.net/doc


 


TASKFORCE PROPOSALS


 


– A £35 million to £50 million a year micro-grants scheme should be created to help small bodies develop social capital and build community capacity.


 


– £50 million should be earmarked to help community organisations engage with local strategic partnerships.


 


– Further Neighbourhood Renewal Fund cash should be made available in the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review.


 


– A government campaign should be launched to promote the benefits of community ownership and asset management.


 


– The Adventure Capital Fund should be doubled in size to £30 million.