The Empowerment Fund
Consultation on proposals for funding third sector organisations to empower communities across England
About this Consultation 5
Issues for consultation 5
Who are we consulting? 6
Related Documents 6
How to Respond 7
Will my comments be made public? 8
Consultation Criteria 8
Appendix A: Empowerment Draft Prospectus 10
Section 1. The Empowerment Fund and this Prospectus 10
The Fund 10
The rationale for the fund 11
The Prospectus 11
Section 2. The Operation of the Empowerment Fund 12
The legal basis of the fund 12
How much is available? 13
Who is eligible? 13
Who is not eligible? 14
Section 3. Themes 16
Community Leadership 16
Community Development 16
Community and Social Media 16
Community Voices 16
Community involvement in Planning 16
Improving Communication between Councillors and Citizens 17
Social Enterprise 17
Empowerment of Excluded Communities by facilitating
small organisations to come together around shared goals 17
Section 4. Application Process 18
How to apply 18
How your application will be handled 19
Annex A: Application Form 21
About this Consultation
1. This consultation paper seeks views on the Empowerment Fund. In particular views are being sought on a draft Prospectus which the Government intends to issue. This Fund is being developed by the Government following the launch of the Communities and Local Government’s White Paper Communities in Control: real people, real power on 9 July 2008. A copy of the draft Prospectus is the Appendix to this consultation document.
2. This fund will provide support for existing national third sector organisations operating across England to help local communities turn key proposals into practical action on the ground.
3. It has been established against the background of the Government’s aim to pass power into the hands of local communities, to generate vibrant local democracy in every part of the country, and to give real control over local decisions and services to a wider pool of active citizens.
4. We are publishing this Prospectus in draft for consultation in line with our commitment to the Compact principles, enabling comments on the approach to the Empowerment Fund while also informing potential applicants of the anticipated process and timeline.
Issues for Consultation
5. The Government welcomes views on the proposed Empowerment Fund. We are proposing to established a £7.5 million Fund which will provide over the three years – 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11 – support for existing third sector organisations operating across England which are helping local communities turn key proposals into practical action on the ground in such areas as community leadership, involvement in planning and social enterprise.
6. Of this £1.5m is specifically for community involvement in planning, where we are considering the possibility of more flexible arrangements including a lower level of funding if there are other eligible organisations currently operational that would meet the objectives of the Empowerment Fund and other relevent legal and financial criteria.
7. The draft Prospectus (at the Appendix) sets out the rationale for this fund and how we are proposing to operate it. We would welcome comments on all aspects of the Prospectus, and have also posed certain specific questions, upon which we would particularly like comments. These are listed below.
a) Are the proposed set levels of funding (see section 2.3 of the draft Prospectus) appropriate?
b) Do the empowerment themes set out in section 3 of the draft Prospectus merit support from the Empowerment Fund, given that Fund‘s objectives?
c) Should any of the themes in the draft Prospectus be omitted or others included if the Empowerment Fund is to achieve its objectives?
d) Are different arrangements required for community involvement in planning?
e) Do you have any comments on the design of the application form (see Annex A to the draft Prospectus)
Who are we consulting?
8. We welcome comments from everyone and in particular from third sector organisations.
9. The consultation period runs for 12 weeks to 30 September 2008. We anticipate publishing a final Prospectus within 1 month of the close of the consultation.
10. This consultation is being run by Communities and Local Government and applies to England only. This consultation paper should be read alongside the Impact Assessment which is also available on the Communities and Local Government website (www.communities.gov.uk). The Government would also welcome any comments on the Impact Assessment as part of this consultation.
Communities in Control: real people, real power White Paper
Third Sector Partnership Board: Consultation Paper on strengthening the strategic voice of the third sector within Communities and Local Government
The Table below sets out the timetable for the consultation, and the proposed timetable for applications for funding from the Empowerment Fund.
Launch draft Prospectus
w/c 20 October
w/c 17 November
Successful applicants selected
By end December
How to respond
11. Consultation responses should be submitted either electronically, via the email address below or by post. It would be helpful if all responses can be annotated with the relevant question number or paragraph number to which the comment relates. All responses should be received by 30 September 2008 and can be sent by email or post:
The Empowerment Fund: Consultation on a draft Prospectus
Third Sector Team
Communities and Local Government
Zone 5/B1, Eland House
London SW1E 5DU
12. It would be helpful if you could make clear in your response whether you represent an organisation or group, and in what capacity you are responding.
Will my comments be made public?
13. The Government will use the responses in finalising its proposals set out in this consultation paper. According to the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, all information contained in the response including personal information may be subject to publication or disclosure. Where respondents request that information given in response to the consultation be kept confidential, this will only be possible if it is consistent with Freedom of Information obligations.
The Consultation Criteria
14. The Government has adopted a code of practice on consultations. The code contains criteria which apply to all UK national public consultations on the basis of a document in electronic or printed form. They will often be relevant to other sorts of consultation.
15. Though the code has no legal force, and cannot prevail over statutory or other mandatory external requirements (e.g. under European Community Law), it should otherwise generally be regarded as binding on UK departments and their agencies, unless Ministers conclude that exceptional circumstances require a departure. The code contains the following six criteria:
a) Consult widely throughout the process, allowing a minimum of 12 weeks for written consultation at least once during the development of the policy.
b) Be clear about what your proposals are, who may be affected, what questions are being asked and the timescale for responses.
c) Ensure that your consultation is clear, concise and widely accessible.
d) Give feedback regarding the responses received and how the consultation process influenced the policy.
e) Monitor your department‘s effectiveness at consultation, including through the use of a designated consultation co-ordinator.
f) Ensure your consultation follows better regulation best practice, including carrying out a Regulatory Impact Assessment if appropriate.
The full consultation code may be viewed at
Are you satisfied that this consultation has followed these criteria? If not, or you have any other observations about ways of improving the consultation process please contact:
Communities and Local Government Consultation Co-ordinator
London SW1E 5DU
or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Appendix A: Empowerment Draft Prospectus
The Empowerment Fund and this Prospectus
1.1 This Prospectus invites applications by November 2008 from eligible national third sector organisations for funding from the Empowerment Fund. Please do not submit any application until the Empowerment Fund is formally launched in October 2008.
1.2 As described in the White Paper – Communities in control: real people, real power – published on 9 July 2008, the Department has established a £7.5 million Fund which will provide over the three years – 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11 – support for existing third sector organisations operating across England which are helping local communities turn key proposals into practical action on the ground in such areas as community leadership, community involvement in planning and social enterprise.
1.3 The purpose of the support is to help selected third sector organisations to achieve to a greater extent than otherwise their own goals, and those selected to receive assistance will be organisations that have, and are pursuing, goals that further the empowerment of local communities.
1.4 Accordingly, the Empowerment Fund will provide:
strategic funding: selected organisations, recognised to be of strategic importance, will receive funding supporting them as a whole and not related to specific projects
stable funding: for the selected organisations there will be certainty of funding, subject to performance and associated conditions, until the end of March 2011
sector funding: funding will be restricted to selected third sector organisations as defined in section 70 of the Charities Act 2006.
1.5 The Empowerment Fund is part of the wider framework for a stronger partnership between Government and the third sector set out in the Third Sector Review last year and in the 2006 Strong and Prosperous Communities White Paper.
The rationale for the fund
1.6 The fund has been established against the background of the Government’s aim to pass power into the hands of local communities so as to generate vibrant local democracy in every part of the country, and to give real control over local decisions and services to a wider pool of active citizens.
1.7 Hundreds of thousands of third sector organisations already contribute to this aim in a way that no one else can. They often have a unique ability to articulate and drive change in a community through advocacy and action. Such organisations can include groups and campaigns, co-operatives and mutuals, and social enterprises owned and run by their own members, investing their profits in the local community.
1.8 These community level organisations are characteristically centred around individual active citizens, social entrepreneurs, campaigners, volunteers or political activists. Over the country a multitude of people are involved, acting in their community organisations with altruism and selflessness. These people deserve support.
1.9 Such support is often, in the first instance provided by national associations or other charitable or voluntary organisations, or at the local level from local authorities and their partners. However, as explained in the White Paper, the Government is firmly of the view that those active in their communities deserve support and recognition from central government itself.
1.10 It is for this reason that the Government has established the Empowerment Fund outlined in this Prospectus. The aim of the fund is to provide support in the form of financial assistance by way of grants to third sector organisations operating across England who themselves are helping local community organisations fulfil that aim of people having and exercising some real power, control, and influence over local decisions affecting their day to day lives.
1.11 This Prospectus in the following sections sets out the basis on which this Fund is to be operated by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (“the Secretary of State”). It describes the legal basis of the financial assistance and how it will be provided, the aggregate amount of financial assistance available, the institutions which may apply for the financial assistance and how they should do so, how the Secretary of State will decide the applications she receives, and other terms and conditions on which any financial assistance will be provided.
The operation of the Empowerment Fund
The legal basis of the fund
2.1 The Secretary of State intends under section 70 of the Charities Act 2006 to give financial assistance in the form of grants to certain charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institutions on the terms and conditions as described in this Prospectus.
The provision of financial assistance
2.2 To be considered for this financial assistance an institution must be an organisation which:
is eligible when judged against the criteria (paragraphs 2.8 and 2.9) set out in this Prospectus
has made an application for assistance in accordance with this Prospectus
has complied with all other relevant terms and conditions set by the Secretary of State.
2.3 The amount of financial assistance to be given to an eligible organisation will be determined through a competitive grant process in which eligible third sector organisations through their applications bid for a set level of funding. Two funding levels will be available:
Level 1 – £600k spread over three years – for which organisations must be able to demonstrate that their 2007-08 income is £1m or more (this should be demonstrated with copies of their annual accounts). We would expect between 8-12 organisations to be given financial assistance at this level
Level 2 – £250k spread over three years for which organisations must be able to demonstrate that their 2007-08 income is £400k or more (this should be demonstrated with copies of their annual accounts). We would expect no more than 10 organisations to be given financial assistance at this level.
2.4 The Secretary of State will decide whether or not to accept a bid, and in the case of a bid for Level 1 funding whether to accept it at the funding level sought or at Level 2. In taking this decision the Secretary of State will have regard to the matters set out in this Prospectus, including the eligibility of the applicant organisation, its application, the aggregate amount of financial assistance available, and to all other relevant matters. The submission by an eligible organisation of a valid application does not give any entitlement to financial assistance.
2.5 The terms and conditions on which financial assistance will be given are those set out in this Prospectus and any other terms and conditions which the Secretary of State may specify, including terms and conditions which may be set in relation to a particular application. In particular the Department will seek to agree the timing of payments of grants with a recipient of financial assistance as soon as practicable after the decision on the bid is made. Where appropriate and necessary this may include payment in advance of expenditure where this would achieve better value for money.
Aggregate amount of available financial assistance
2.6 Up to £7.5 million will be available over the three years – 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11 – of which up to £1.5m is specifically available for organisations whose mission and goals are connected with empowering communities in relation to planning.
2.7 If there are insufficient satisfactory applications, not all the available amount will be given to organisations.
Who is eligible?
2.8 Subject to the criteria in paragraph 2.9 an organisation is eligible to receive financial assistance from the Empowerment Fund if:
it is a third sector organisation falling within the scope of the Charities Act 2006 definition of being a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution. If the organisation has charitable objects, and registration is required, the organisation must be registered with the Charity Commission. See
www.charity-commission.gov.uk for information about charity registration. Exempt or Excepted charities and those with income below a set level may not have to register
it has a mission and goals substantially related to one or more of the themes set out in section 3 of this Prospectus, as demonstrated through its existing mission statement, corporate and business plans and other strategy documents. This does not mean that pursuit of the theme or themes concerned must be the organisation’s sole purpose but it should not be tangential to its activities. You can apply for more than one theme, although the total funding must not exceed the limit set below
it is able to operate across England, being an organisation able to demonstrate its capacity to work both at a national level and able to reach communities throughout England
its annual accounts show an income of more than £1 million (for Level 1 funding) or £400k (for Level 2 funding) for the accounting year ended in 2007-08 to demonstrate that the financial assistance for which it has bid for is not more than 25% of its estimated income for the year, and can demonstrate through its audited annual accounts
it is a corporate body or has a formal constitution if not incorporated
it has an Equal Opportunities Policy.
Who is not eligible?
2.9 Irrespective of whether an organisation meets the criteria set out in paragraph 2.8 above, it is not eligible to receive financial assistance from the Empowerment Fund if it meets one or more of the following:
it already receives funding from central Government for activities relating to a theme or themes by reference to which it would otherwise claim eligibility
it undertakes largely for beneficiaries outside England the activities relating to a theme or themes by reference to which it would otherwise claim eligibility
it intends to use, or the Secretary of State considers on the basis of the information available to her that there is a risk that it might use, the financial assistance for which it has bid,
whether directly or indirectly, for activities such as: services or events where the key purpose is to promote a religious doctrine; mission or proselytism; promotion of the beliefs of a particular faith (beyond basic religious/cultural awareness raising)
to subsidise services or activities in such a way that would distort or threaten open competition in line with current European Commission rules on State Aid
it is an organisation that exists for private gain
the Secretary of State considers on the basis of the information available to her that its financial position is not sound.
2.10 We recognise that both smaller and local or regional organisations play an important role in empowering communities but are not the focus of this fund. If your organisation is not eligible to apply, there are other sources of funding available on
2.11 The next section sets out the themes in this Prospectus and section 4 sets out how to apply.
3.1 The purpose of the Empowerment Fund is to give financial assistance to national third sector organisations which in a variety of ways are helping to support those local community organisations that are central to empowering people and their local communities. Such national organisations can be active in relation to a range of themes which in various ways can contribute towards giving people some real power, control, and influence over decisions that affect them and their communities.
3.2 We believe that those organisations which are active in the themes set out below are likely to be able to make the strongest and most effective contributions to delivering the goals for empowering people set out in the White Paper Communities in Control: real people, real power. Accordingly the Secretary of State considers that such organisations are likely to be well placed to make the most effective use of financial assistance from the Empowerment Fund, enabling them to do yet more to empower people and local communities.
3.3 These themes are:
Encouraging and supporting:
Community Leadership – for communities to feel empowered they need civil and civic leaders they trust who understand them and reflect their makeup. But in many places significant groups feel they lack pathways into power.
Community Development – this seeks to empower individuals and groups of people by providing them with the skills they need to effect change in their own communities.
Community and Social Media – this provides alternative sources of information and platforms for dialogue and debate, enabling citizens to make choices about where to get information on their neighbourhoods, and supports innovation.
Community Voices – to support third sector individuals in their role on Local Strategic Partnerships and thematic sub-groups to ensure connections with the wider community.
Community involvement in Planning – this includes, for example, involvement in statutory and community led planning, supporting specific disadvantaged sectors of society and those wanting to get involved with environmental issues.
Improving communication between councillors and citizens – to support communities and councillors to have increasingly effective forums for ongoing dialogue.
Social Enterprise – these are businesses with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community. Such enterprises can involve providing goods and services across a range of sectors, and creating work and wealth, particularly in the most deprived neighbourhoods.
Empowerment of excluded communities by facilitating small organisations to come together around shared goals – this enables more collaborative working between organisations and service providers to help empower excluded communities organisations.
The Application Process – how to apply and how your application will be handled
How to apply
4.1 We have sought to make the application process for financial assistance from the Empowerment Fund as simple as possible, whilst equally ensuring that decisions on any applications will be fair, transparent, and soundly based, having taken regard to clear and readily understandable information and all other relevant matters.
4.2 An organisation wishing to receive financial assistance from the Empowerment Fund will need to make an application to the Secretary of State. All such applications must be received by the Secretary of State on or before [ ] November, 2008, and must conform to the requirements set out below in this Prospectus.
4.3 The information we ask for is to ensure that we have accurate contact details, understand the theme or themes applied for and the level of funding sought, plus the mission and goals of the organisation applying and why it is relevant to the specific theme or themes concerned.
4.4 Applicants for financial assistance from the Empowerment Fund need to provide the information necessary to demonstrate both the eligibility of their organisation, and how receiving the financial assistance for which they are bidding would enable them to achieve to a greater extent their own goals in relation to the theme or themes for which they are applying. It is particularly important that applicants demonstrate not only how their organisation currently contributes to the theme or themes concerned, but the how funding would help you achieve its goals if its bid is successful.
4.5 Applicants will need to complete the application form set out in at Annex A and provide:
specify which level of funding they are seeking
specify which theme or themes they are applying
a statement, for each theme applied for, explaining why their organisation should be selected including answers to the following questions:
What are your organisation’s current plans in the absence of any Empowerment Fund financial assistance to pursue activities in relation to the specified theme or themes?
What difference would receiving financial assistance from the Empowerment Fund make to the scale and range of activities your organisation would undertake in relation to the specified theme or themes?
What indicators would you use to report to the Department on a six-monthly basis your progress on those activities and on how they are being enhanced?
4.6 In addition, we will need to receive copies of:
Your current strategy or business plan, setting out plans over the next 3 years
Your organisation’s annual report and accounts for the accounting years ended in 2006-07, and 2007-08; if these are not available your organisation will need to provide a statement, agreed with its auditor, explaining the situation.
Applicants may also provide such other information as they consider appropriate if they wish, and at any time during the selection process the Secretary of State may request for further information to clarify material previously submitted. Any such further information must be provided in accordance with any timetable included in the Secretary of State’s request.
How your application will be handled
4.7 Once your application is received you will receive an email notification within five working days with a reference number. This will be to confirm receipt and to facilitate future correspondence.
4.8 Applications, once received, will be subject to a three stage internal assessment process which is designed to be fair and transparent. The process will be
Stage 1: applications will be initially assessed as to whether they conform to the requirements of the Prospectus. Applications which the Secretary of State judges not to materially so conform may not be considered further and hence would not proceed to Stage 2. As soon as practicable applicants will be notified of the results of this assessment.
Stage 2: applications will be assessed against the eligibility criteria set out in the Prospectus. Only those applications which the Secretary of State judges, on the basis of the available information and having regard to all relevant matters, to meet the criteria will proceed to Stage 3. Applicants will be notified of the results of this assessment, which we envisage being made by early December 2008.
Stage 3: the Secretary of State will select from all the applications proceeding to Stage 3 those organisations to which she is minded to give financial assistance. She will make the selection, on the basis of the available information and having regard to all relevant matters, with the aims of:
giving financial assistance to those organisations where in her opinion this would result in the greatest increase in the scope, range, and effectiveness of activities relating to the Empowerment themes
in so far as practicable achieving the outcome of giving financial assistance across the range of themes set out in Section 3 of the Prospectus.
4.9 The Secretary of State will notify applicants of the result of her selection which we envisage by the end of December 2008.
4.10 The Secretary of State will agree with those to whom she is minded to provide financial assistance the monitoring and reporting arrangements to the Department. We are seeking to minimize the monitoring and inspection burden on the recipients of funds, while maintaining proper control of public money. We are therefore proposing to seek only information that is necessary to ensure the grant conditions have been met, relying where possible on the monitoring information which the recipient will produce, as a matter of good practice, to report to their own governing body.
4.11 Once selected organisations have accepted the terms and conditions on which the financial assistance is to be provided, the Secretary of State will confirm her selection and begin to make the assistance available. The financial assistance will be provided until the end of March 2011, as described in this Prospectus, subject to the organisation’s satisfactory performance as judged through the agreed monitoring arrangements. If the Secretary of State were to judge that performance was not satisfactory it is open to her to require remedial action by a specified date. Should such required remedial action not be taken and she considers that the effective use of public funding is at risk, it is open to her to suspend or terminate the provision of the financial assistance, after giving any appropriate notice.
Please ensure that you meet the criteria for this fund.
Please only enclose documents requested.
Please ensure that you fill in ALL four sections of this form.
If you are applying for funding for more than one theme, a short statement (and questions) should be completed for each theme.
The aim of the Empowerment Fund is set out in the draft Prospectus
Please contact Cherron Inko-Tariah (Tel: 020 7944 8303) or email:
email@example.com if you have any queries about completing this form.
For CLG use only
SECTION ONE: CONTACT DETAILS
(please include email address and contact number)
SECTION 2: THEME AND LEVEL OF FUNDING (please tick relevant box)
Community and Social Media
Community involvement in Planning
Improving communication between councillors and citizens
Empowerment of excluded communities by facilitating small organisations to come together around shared goals
SECTION 3: SHORT STATEMENT
Please use this section to write a short statement (no more than 500 words) ensuring that you cover the following questions (i) What are your current plans to complement the objectives of specified theme? (ii) What difference would the Empowerment Fund make? (iii) What indicators would you use to report progress to the Department on a six-monthly basis?
SECTION 4: CERTIFICATION
I certify that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the statements made in this application are true and the information provided is correct. I enclose a copy of our business plan for the next 3 years, and most recent annual report and accounts.
Name (block capitals):
The completed form is to be received no later than 5pm on [ ] November 2008 by:
Third Sector & Social Enterprise Team
Communities and Local Government
Zone 5/B1, Eland House, Bressenden Place
London SWIE 5DU