Community bodies miss out on jobs funding

Community bodies miss out on jobs funding
Allister Hayman, Regeneration & Renewal

The £1.5 billion Working Neighbourhoods Fund, launched a year ago, was awarded to the 64 councils with England’s most concentrated pockets of long-term worklessness.

Last autumn, communities secretary Hazel Blears told councils to commission community and voluntary sector bodies to reach the long-term unemployed (R&R, 26 September, p1).

But research by Regeneration & Renewal has found that over the fund’s first year, councils have on average only handed 20 per cent of their WNF allocation to third sector bodies, while 63 per cent has been kept within councils or allocated to other public sector agencies.

Following revelations by Regeneration & Renewal this month that town halls had spent more than half of the WNF cash on programmes not directly related to worklessness (R&R, 4 May, p1), ministers announced that councils would be required to draw up detailed plans that set out how they intend to spend any new WNF cash. In order to boost the engagement of the third sector, ministers said these plans would have to be compliant with the Compact funding accord.