If you hold a glimmer of interest in the future of funding for VCS support services (infrastructure) funding then engaging in the Big Lottery Fund Building capabilities for impact and legacy consultation is very important.
For a hard hitting, but in my opinion, balanced view on some of the concerns raised by this I recommend that you read Richard Caulfield’s (my counterpart in the North West) post Just what is happening with VCS infrastructure?
Richard’s points are highly valid but raised with me some additional concerns.
If support services move to a demand led model and are therefore ‘purchased’ by the recipient rather than being free at point of contact then how do we deal with:
- Stimulating local and grass roots activity - the ‘community development’ side of support services, which support the growth of new or emerging voluntary action. Is the view that this will solely be the domain of Community Organisers and possibly local authorities in the future and is this a good thing?
- Equality of access – it is a well known fact that many specialist and minority voluntary groups are relatively underfunded due to a combination of lack of visibility, low capacity and poor access to appropriate funding. If support is then demand-led then surely this will reinforce and already unjust situation?
- Other viewpoints (and funders) – funding of local infrastructure has been the primary domain of local authorities and local health commissioning structures (mainly PCTs). How progressed is the dialogue with these organisations on what they seek to achieve in their areas through infrastructure and whether these proposals are at odds or in support of the options?