h1_bkg

Nice transition fund – what about the rest?

There are a couple of striking things about the new hundred-million-pound Transition Fund for the voluntary sector, announced in the yesterday comprehensive spending review yesterday.

The first is that it happened at all, given the overall 19 per cent cut in public spending over the next four years. The civil society minister, Nick Hurd, has done well to secure it.

The second is that the sum is more than twice as large as the £40.5m the last government managed to find for the third sector action plan, designed to help the sector through the recession at the start of 2009.

The amount might be small in the overall scale of things, but it is no doubt partly intended as a symbol of the government’s often-stated commitment to the big society and the role in envisages for the sector.

Other figures remain more obscure. The Office for Civil Society has been given a budget of £470m for the next four years. This compares to approximately £500m that the last government allocated to it for the three years 2008-11.

The extent to which the figures are comparable will depend partly on the value of OCS youth volunteering functions that will eventually be transferred to the Department for Education. This will no doubt emerge in the coming days. But it is clear that there will have been cuts, which is no surprise.

Now the overall figure is set, we need to hear from the OCS how much it is going to spend on flagship big society programmes like Community First, the National Citizen Service and match funding for local endowments.

  • Jay Kennedy

    And how much of it includes speculative amounts of dormant accounts cash for the Big Society Bank? The key word in the CSR is that government will ‘direct’ this amount of money – that to me implies that the figure does include the dormant accounts money, in which case the £470m must be a soft total…

  • Elizabeth Balgobin

    I would fighting within government for the sector to be able to speak out. It is not party political to say a government is doing something wrong or harmful. Speaking on behalf of those unable to speak for themselves is not party political.

  • John Hannen

    completely agree on much of this – especially the social investment issue as it’s often a solution in search of a problem and relies on the ability of organisations to predict outcomes in an uncertain, complex and dynamic environment. I can only see it ever being useful with investors who are able to plan for losses and see the gain of a return as an occasional windfall.

    Not sure about the influence issue though – an OCS minister is only as influential as other cabinet ministers allow them to be (the PM and chancellor especially). It won’t be in Newmark’s power to be influential across depts. What he could usefully do is be honest about his role – I think Hurd was liked in the voluntary sector and did learn much about us but I’m not convinced he did leave people clear about his limited influence. As a result his main impact was in mollifying VCSE orgs rather than changing govt policy.

    We may want an influential “nick hurd” type – but any influential politician would never end up in the OCS in the first place. Probably better to focus on Pickles, Hunt and IDS and their junior ministers directly if we want to actually change govt policy.