Bishop of Portsmouth welcomes Government integration strategy, raises concern about Near Neighbours funding

On 15th March 2018 the Minister for Faith, Lord Bourne, repeated a statement made by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on the new Integrated Communities Green Paper. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, there is a great deal in this Statement and in the strategy that I welcome. It promises a big and positive difference in what the Government are doing to improve integration. It is good to see in the Green Paper initiatives such as the Near Neighbours Catalyst leadership programme, to which the Minister has recently referred. It is good to see that singled out for praise. However, there is some anxiety that Catalyst and other valuable Near Neighbours activity might have to come to an end as a result of a reduction in overall funding for Near Neighbours and the for the small grants fund. I am sure that that is far from the Government’s intention, and I wonder whether the Minister can give an assurance that he will look at the impact of any funding changes as part of the assessment of this new strategy.

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: My Lords, I can certainly assure the right reverend Prelate that we will be very mindful about any changes to funding. The Near Neighbours projects that I have seen—and I have ​seen a lot of them—have been doing excellent work and providing excellent value, so when we look at funding, as government departments do from time to time, we will bear that very much in mind.


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