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Real Help for Communities Programme

Volume 492: debated on Wednesday 20 May 2009

5. What progress his Department has made in the implementation of the Real Help for Communities Programme. (276399)

I am pleased to tell the House that the £16.5 million modernisation fund and the £15.5 million targeted support fund are both up and running, and have received more than 500 applications and expressions of interest to date. The volunteer brokerage scheme for unemployed people went live on 6 April, and nine regional roadshows have been fully subscribed. Last month, the Prime Minister appointed Dame Stephanie Shirley as the Government’s first giving and philanthropy ambassador. [Interruption.]

I thank the Minister for that reply. I understand that Bradford’s allocation is about £411,000. Can he tell me when that money will come through and how it will be distributed?

Yes. Of the £15.5 million targeted support fund, which opened to applications on 29 April, Bradford will get £410,892, which will be delivered by the Bradford and district community empowerment network. If my hon. Friend has any organisations that he wants to steer in the network’s direction, I recommend that he do so.

The Real Help website and documentation should be—and, indeed, are—really helpful, but I cannot help but think that MPs and the Government have perhaps not done enough to promote awareness of these services to the sectors that could really benefit from them. What can the Minister and Back Benchers do to make them more accessible?

I am writing to all Members affected by the funds, which will be all Members of the House in England affected by the Real Help Now action plan. In addition, the Office of the Third Sector has already held nine regional roadshows, which have been fully subscribed. Business Link is a free business advice and support service, and it is also available to the third sector. In Scotland, Business Gateway Scotland provides a similar service, giving advice on what help is available to businesses and the third sector.