New fund supports not-for-profits' public sector bids

29 July 2011

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29 July 2011 | Adam Leach

The UK government has launched a £10 millionfund to help charities and voluntary sector organisations gain access to finance opportunities created through the ‘Big Society’.

The money is intended to provide financial support for charities, social enterprises and other civil society organisations that are seeking to bid for public service contracts. The £10 million will be spent on helping organisations gain new investment through, among other things, the Big Society Bank.

Announcing the fund, minister for civil society Nick Hurd, said: “The £10 million investment and contract readiness fund will create a pipeline of civil society organisations ready to grasp new opportunities. They will break down barriers and build expertise in the sector, so that it can become a mainstream option for public service delivery.”

The latest development comes just a week after it was announced that £30 million would be made available for social enterprises and voluntary organisations to help strengthen infrastructure and business processes across the sector. Services applicable to the Transforming Local Infrastructure fund include: merging back-office functions between organisations; redesigning services to meet current needs; and stimulating interaction between the third sector and local businesses.

Stuart Etherington, chair of the NationalCouncil for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), welcomed the launch of the infrastructure fund, but was critical of its timescale, with companies having to declare an interest by 5 August. “There are concerns that the very short window for applications, over a time when a lot of people will be away, will deny many the chance to respond in detail,” he said. “It is very important that lessons from a very short timescale with restrictive criteria are learned in the light of the implementation of the transition fund.”

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