OCS partner cash slashed to zero in three years

OCS partner cash slashed to zero in three years

Gemma Hampson, Social Enterprise Live


Funding for the government’s civil society strategic partners has been cut further and will be phased out in three years.


Social Enterprise reported in August last year that the Cabinet Office’s office for civil society partners programme was being radically scaled down from £12.1m to a maximum of £7.5m and from 40 partners to a maximum of 15.


It has now been revealed that the partners will be entitled to a slice of just £4m in this year (2011-12), £3m in 2012-13 and £2m in 2013-14 before tapering down to zero in 2014-15.


Only current strategic partners can apply for funding and, as in last year’s announcement, they may only apply for a total of £500,000 and no more than 25 per cent of their total funding income. However, as there is a maximum of £4m allocated for this financial year this means that very few of the 15 partners will get the maximum amount. The £500,000 cap is for the first year only and would be scaled down by around a quarter year on year.


The partners, which include the Social Enterprise Coalition, Development Trusts Association (DTA), Social Firms UK and Social Enterprise London, were told about the cuts last night in a letter from civil society minister Nick Hurd.


The newly named OCS Strategic Partners Transition Programme opened for applications from its existing partners yesterday and will close on 25 February 2011.


Hurd said that the partners likely to get funding are ‘those in the process of merging or establishing formal partnerships with other organisations as a way of ensuring greater efficiency, reducing duplication and supporting the aim of rationalising the number of strategic partners’. However, the merger can not be with partners outside the existing programme. This is good news for organisations like the DTA and Bassac, both strategic partners, which announced a merger last year.


Hurd said in the letter: ‘I understand that there will be concerns  about the new programme, but I do believe that we have to ensure that we enable the greatest number of organisations to feed into the work of government in the most cost effective and strategic manner. I am therefore convinced that the way forward is a transition programme with emphasis on sustainability beyond 2014.’


In response to the letter, Social Enterprise Coalition (SEC) CEO Peter Holbrook said: ‘We are not surprised by the new approach and have for some time been adapting our business model to ensure sustainability. 


‘Our aim, first and foremost, is to support and enable the social enterprise movement. We very much hope to continue as a partner to OCS, but it should be one of many strategic allies for us going forward. SEC is recruiting strategic partners in the business world who, through the opening of doors, will enable us to reach new audiences for our members and the wider movement. 


‘It is time for social enterprise to spread its wings and set stronger foundations on which the movement can really grow.


More stories at http://www.socialenterpriselive.com/