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February 27, 2008

Wrangling delays Community Anchor money

In both Whitehall and Scotland, we find civil servants resolutely opposed to community empowerment – who try to steer resources towards municipal control. It appears that the English Community Anchors Fund has been delayed by wrangling of this nature


The distribution of a huge pot of funding that could help community groups across the UK has hit a political stumbling block.

Social Enterprise magazine will next week reveal the tussle that has been delaying the announcement of a multi-million pound ‘community anchors’ programme. The scheme, run by DCLG, is understood to be worth tens of millions of pounds.

The community anchors proposal -growing enterprising community organisations rooted in neighbour- hoods -was first put forward in 2004 as one of four priorities in the Home Office’s framework for community capacity building, Firm foundations.

The idea was set to become reality a month ago but the launch was postponed due to community groups’ concerns over how local authorities might distribute the cash.

It is also not clear how local authorities will interpret the programme and implement it from post- code to postcode.

David Tyler, chief executive of Community Matters, said the idea of community anchors would be completely new to local authorities. He warned the programme could be interpreted to coincide with existing local funding priorities.

Development Trusts Association director Steve Wyler told New Start local authorities should be involved in the programme at many levels, providing advice on local needs. But he feared they did not have the investment expertise to help community enterprises scale up.

A spokesperson for DCLG could not give details of the announcement but said it was likely to be imminent.