Civil Society Media website reports that Nick Hurd, the civil society minister, has confirmed that Futurebuilders — New Labour’s flagship loans-plus-support model for investing in third sector development, managed by the Social Investment Business — is “effectively closed for business”. In future the £200m fund will be dedicated to providing grants to stimulate the formation of neighbourhood-based organisations, a clear change of direction under the coalition’s new ‘big society’ policies.
The Office for Civil Society (the replacement for the Office of the Third Sector) has also confirmed that Capacitybuilders and the youth volunteering organisation v — both major New Labour initiatives — are “under review”. Even under New Labour, political support for Capacitybuilders amongst many ministers was equivocal at best — pretty disastrous, for what was after all a non-departmental government body and therefore technically a government ‘agency’.
As far as New Labour’s third sector initiatives are concerned, the new thinking seems to be: reconfigure or dismantle. In many ways this is entirely understandable, predictable, even, but what is interesting — as with Futurebuilders — is the speed with which some of New Labour’s ideological ideas regarding the sector, such as the benefits to be derived from a loan-based investment model, are now being questioned and overturned.