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This FAQs file originates from the outset of the ChangeUp programme and will shortly be revised


QuestioningWhat is capacity building?

Capacity building is ‘empowering activity that strengthens the ability of voluntary and community organisations to build their structures, systems, people and skills so that they are better able to:

  • define and achieve their objectives
  • engage in consultation and planning
  • manage projects
  • take part in partnerships, social enterprise and service delivery

What is infrastructure?

The physical facilities, structures, systems, relationships, people, knowledge and skills that exist to support and develop, co-ordinate, represent and promote front line organisations thus enabling them to deliver their missions more effectively. Infrastructure organisations, often called ‘second tier’, intermediary or umbrella organisations, provide support to frontline organisations.

What are the basics of ChangeUp?

ChangeUp is a joint Government and voluntary and community sector vision for how capacity building support and infrastructure for the VCS should develop in the next ten years. It sets out high level objectives to address key capacity needs of frontline organisations to improve their performance, develop their paid and unpaid workforce, make better use of ICT, improve their governance, improve their ability to recruit and develop volunteers and fund their activity. ChangeUp also sets out an architecture for change to improve the provision of support to frontline organisations. ChangeUp is driven by the aim that frontline organisations will be able to access support that

  • is available nationwide and structured for maximum efficiency
  • is sustainably funded
  • offers excellent provision
  • is accessible to all
  • promotes and reflects diversity

Why is there a need for ChangeUp and why is it supported by Government?

The HMT Cross Cutting Review of the role of the Voluntary and Community Sector in Service Delivery made recommendations for strengthening the capacity of the sector to deliver public services including the development of a cross-government, cross-sector framework for strategic support to the voluntary and community sector. ChangeUp is that Framework.

ChangeUp is supposed to be a joint strategy between Government and the voluntary and community sector. Is it?

ChangeUp was developed through consultation and in partnership with the voluntary and community sector and is a jointly owned strategy between Government and the sector.   A cross-sector Capacity Implementation Team advised on the overall development of ChangeUp and the ACD’s voluntary and community sector Advisory Group commented on ChangeUp as it developed.

Is the Government going to create new infrastructure organisations and ignore existing organisations?

We want to help develop and sustain infrastructure that provide high quality support to frontline organisations. We will invest in collaboration and infrastructure development planning at all levels. It will be for the voluntary and community sector in partnership with funders and other key stakeholders to determine what support is needed and how this is best provided. Our investment will be focused on strategic activity to improve infrastructure over the long term – we cannot replace and must be careful not to displace existing funding of core support services.

Why are you not recognising the important role for CVS in delivering ChangeUp?

ChangeUp is a strategic, time-limited, programme which is targeted at building capacity within the sector.  CVS organizations  play a crucial role in drawing-up local infrastructure delivery plans, and will undoubtedly be key to implementing change, but ChangeUp is not intended to provide additional core funding to existing organisations.

What is being done to ensure that there is joined up planning and implementation across national, regional and local levels?

ACD have provided clear guidance to hubs and consortia at all levels on the need to work with each other. ACD sit on the advisory groups of the five national hubs of expertise and closely monitor progress. Cross-sector Regional Consortia help link national action to sub-regional/local plans - they have a key role in bringing together local infrastructure development plans looking at what might be better organised sub-regionally. ACD facilitate cross working and skill sharing between the regions.

Why focus on ‘sub- regional’?  What does this mean?

In rural areas and some metropolitan county areas there are already significant infrastructure bodies including Rural Community Councils and a variety of networks, and Defra and the Home Office are currently supporting the development of county level consortia. Not all infrastructure support can be economically viable if managed at a local level. ChangeUp recognises that there is much potential in encouraging collaboration across districts at county level to offer high quality support in key areas such as performance improvement. Even if organised sub-regionally, many services can still be delivered locally.

Will local government and other local public sector bodies improve their support for infrastructure as a result of ChangeUp?

Local funders are best placed to plan and fund services that meet local needs. It is vital that national investment does not displace local funding or fill gaps with no thought to sustainability. The process of agreeing local infrastructure development plans will ensure that a range of local stakeholders agree how a robust and more sustainable infrastructure can meet the needs of local organisations, their users and the wider community. This should in turn build the confidence and ownership of local funders.

Will infrastructure organisations be forced to merge?

No - one of the ten principles underpinning ChangeUp is recognition of the independence of the voluntary and community sector.  We hope that the process of planning and co-ordination will encourage organisations to work more closely and in different ways to best meet the needs of frontline groups. This could mean merger, sharing aspects of service delivery, or sharing back-office functions and overheads.

ChangeUp recommends that infrastructure organisations earn a higher proportion of their income. How can VCOs afford to pay? Will this force infrastructure to deliver frontline services in competition with their members?

We want to help create an environment where infrastructure can build its asset base and earn more income from its members and users - rather than increase its role in frontline service delivery. Public funding can never cover the total cost of meeting needs and infrastructure would benefit from being more demand led. To help achieve this Changeup proposes that funders contribute towards the capacity building costs of frontline organisations as part of full cost recovery, better enabling them to purchase support.

What evidence is there that national hubs of expertise will make a difference to frontline organisations?

We know that change is needed to drive up collaboration and expertise in key support areas and to reduce confusion in the sector about where to go for support. We will be requiring the hubs to demonstrate the difference they are making on the ground and we will be evaluating their impact. The hubs will involve a range of partner organisations, most of whom have local users and members.

How will you know if ChangeUp has made a difference?

We will focus our monitoring and evaluation on outcomes and impact. We will be collecting information across the spending programmes, commissioning independent evaluations, and seeking the views of stakeholders - reviewing key milestones along the way. Achieving the vision set out in ChangeUp will take a decade and require commitment across all sectors. Home Office funding in the next two years will help kick start that change, so we have to focus on the immediate actions that will make the biggest long term difference.

Is implementation really a partnership with the sector?

The voluntary and community sector will continue to be actively involved and have ownership of delivery and funding priorities through the Infrastructure National Partnership, national hubs of expertise, regional and sub-regional consortia and local infrastructure planning arrangements. Implementation is based on flexible approaches to planning and funding within a clear overall framework – this enshrines partnership working to develop shared priorities between the voluntary and community sector and the public sector focused on end users.

Is the Government only interested in the voluntary and community sector as agents to deliver public services?

The voluntary and community sector and its infrastructure has an essential role in building and contributing to civil society and a healthy democracy, and this is reflected in ChangeUp. ChangeUp recognises the role of the sector in engaging communities to be more self-determining, engaging citizens as volunteers and building bridges across communities.

What is being done to link ChangeUp to the Compact?

There are senior level Champions in each government department and Departments are developing strategies for taking forward their engagement with the voluntary and community sector.  A training programme is being instigated to develop the capacity of public sector officials and the voluntary and community sector to work together. Local infrastructure planning should take account of local compacts and partnership arrangements in place or being developed.


Is ChangeUp only about changing and improving generalist infrastructure?

ChangeUp focuses on generic issues to ensure that all voluntary and community organisations can access high quality support in key areas such as governance and ICT and that a baseline of good provision is put in place at all geographic levels. ChangeUp also recognises the value of specialist infrastructure. Regional, sub-regional and local infrastructure planning will need to take account of its role and potential. However, there are thousands of specialist agencies, operating at every level, and there is simply not enough resource to fund a large number of specialist bodies.

How will you ensure that BME and other minority groups benefit?

We will require initiatives at all levels to consider and meet the needs of BME and other marginalised groups. This should result in action and investment in generalist and specialist infrastructure working with these groups and may require some new initiatives being put in place. We are committed to finding solutions that work for the long term - we are commissioning joint work with the refugee, BME and faith sectors and other stakeholders to identify barriers and what will make a difference.

Why does the diversity section of ChangeUp focus heavily on BME communities?

The Cross-Cutting Review of the role of the voluntary and community sector in public service delivery highlighted in particular the importance and fragility of many BME organisations and there is a real need to improve support to and representation of these organisations. They have a vital role in tackling racial disadvantage and in the successful implementation of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.

Will the emphasis on reducing duplication lead to some disadvantaged groups being marginalised or ‘swallowed up’ in generic infrastructure?

We will target the needs of organisations that have not traditionally had equitable access to infrastructure support, in particular neighbourhood, BME and faith groups - we want to support these being met through a mix of generalist and specialist infrastructure working well together.

What about social enterprise?

Social enterprises providing infrastructure and capacity building services to frontline organisations will be eligible for funding. We will require that the support needs of social enterprises and enterprise activity within the voluntary and community sector be integral to infrastructure planning and development at all levels. Investment could support improving provision as well as meeting gaps. At a national level we will invest in the development of a hub of expertise on financing voluntary and community sector activity. Alongside fundraising, procurement and sustainability, the hub will provide strategic leadership on driving up the provision of support for social enterprise and asset development skills in the voluntary and community sector.


What investment is there to support the delivery of ChangeUp?

The Framework is underpinned by Home Office investment of £80 million over 2003/04 – 2005/06. Having already invested £8 million in developing ChangeUp and in an Early Spend programme, £72 million remains to support implementation – made up of £66 million revenue and £16 million capital – to be invested by March 2006.

What type of organisation is the investment aimed at?

Funded schemes must provide capacity building/second tier support and development services to frontline organisations, their workers and trustees. Schemes for the provision of direct services to members of the public will not be eligible. Schemes must be delivering outcomes in England only and must be constituted bodies which are either charities, voluntary or community organisations, social enterprises or community interest companies.

When will the money come on stream?

ACD will start commissioning strategic initiatives at a national level over the over the next couple of months and local infrastructure and capacity building initiatives can expect the first funding to come on line from the autumn.

Who will administer the funds?

The ACD are working with Government Offices in the regions to co-ordinate investment to ensure it meets ChangeUp's objectives and helps achieve its outcomes. Both the ACD and Government Offices will directly commission some initiatives but will also look at where fund management and distribution can be usefully subcontracted. GOs will work with cross-sector regional consortia to identify the right fund management arrangements for each region.

How can I access funds?

As spending programmes come on stream, full details on accessing funds will be made available by fund managers. General information including fund manager contact details will be placed on the Home Office website and will also be available through emailing

How will you ensure that fund distribution is fair and transparent?

To ensure compliance with the Compact code of good practice on funding, probity and transparency, ACD will develop robust investment guidance for fund managers. Fund managers will be required to implement and report on agreed principles and good practice operating across spending programmes along with evidence of who is participating in planning and receiving funds. ACD will require fund managers to invest for the benefit of diverse frontline organisations - supporting initiatives that best meet their needs.

Isn't commissioning unfair as not all organisations get a look in?

Commissioning will in the main take place through inviting proposals or expressions of interest - fund managers will be required to be open and transparent. We will however want to build on early spend and partnership initiatives already being developed to drive this agenda forward.

How does Home Office investment link with the Defra rural capacity building programme?

ACD investment will benefit the voluntary and community sector across the country, including rural areas, and the two departments are working together to ensure that the programmes are complimentary. Both schemes are being co-ordinated by Government Offices in the regions, and where it makes sense to join up the programmes, we are encouraging GO’s to make this happen.

How does this investment link with futurebuilders?

Futurebuilders will assist frontline organisations to increase the scale and scope of their service delivery; this investment compliments futurebuilders and is for second tier organisations and activity to support frontline organisations to be efficient and effective in meeting their aims.

What happens when the money runs out?

The investment will be targeted at encouraging strategic change that will benefit the voluntary and community sector long after the funding programme has come to an end. A key aim of ChangeUp is to develop a stable, sustainable infrastructure which uses a range of income and funders, of which Government is only one, to support its work.


What has ChangeUp achieved?

We are seeing real progress across the aims of the investment programme:

  • the sector has been involved in developing and delivering the programme since its inception
  • tbe £8m early spend programme has delivered learning points
  • over 80 local and regional consortia have been formed and are taking forward spend programmes to meet local VCS needs
  • partnerships have been formed and business plans have been developed for the national hubs
  • a public services programme is underway, working with other government departments to build capacity in priority areas such as older people's health and social care, ethnic minority employment, and correctional services.

What are the problems with ChangeUp?

Although ChangeUp has already made real progress, there are key challenges in ensuring that implementation of the programme results in real benefits for frontline organisations.

  • there is no sector-led focus point responsible for the delivery of the programme
  • the range of funding streams and multiple fund management arrangements are complex
  • there is a lack of clear mechanisms for joining up and co-ordinating the programme
  • although there is a general commitment to ensure ChangeUp responds to the needs of diverse groups, we recognise that we have not yet gone far enough to turn this into tangible results
  • there is currently little activity to share learning and best practice across the programme

What is Capacitybuilders?

An agency led by sector expertise that will take forward the ChangeUp programme. It will provide a focus for accountability and ownership of the programme, take forward fund management, ensure the programme is joined-up and co-ordinated, mainstream diversity issues, and ensure learning and evaluation is successfully implemented

Why do we need a new agency to deliver ChangeUp?

While the long-term aims of ChangeUp remain the same, we recognise that there are problems in providing a focus for the programme and in joining-up its delivery. This is what we are seeking to achieve. The premise of ChangeUp is to put the sector in the lead, and so it is important that the focus of the programme should be led by sector expertise.

Who will run the agency?

Capacitybuilders will be established at arms length from Government to ensure its independence. The board has been chosen for its experience in the sector and wider expertise. The Infrastructure National Partnership, which is made up of infrastructure organisations, provided an oversight role.

Will developing Capacity Builders delay the delivery of ChangeUp?

It is crucial that momentum is not lost in the delivery of ChangeUp. Significant work is already underway. While the agency is being put in place, Government will continue to act in its current role, maintaining and supporting current activities, while also seeking to act on the current challenges to ChangeUp. We anticipate that Capacitybuilders will then be able to take the pace forward much more quickly and ensure maximum impact for the programme.

What will be the role of the hubs under Capacitybuilders?

Sector-led partnerships have formed and business plans have been developed for the national hubs. A Hubbers Group and Diversity Working Group have been formed to advise on and share developing plans and practice across the hubs. Hubs will have a key relationship with Capacitybuilders going forward and the agency will manage the hub contracts in the longer term.

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