Councils in Great Yarmouth and North Norfolk team up to help voluntary organisations save cash
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2012
A pioneering new service aimed at saving money for not-for-profit organisations is being launched in Norfolk tomorrow, Thursday.
Coastshare is a first in the country and has been created by North Norfolk District Council, Great Yarmouth Borough Council and Voluntary Norfolk.
It will provide member organisations with website access to a 'menu' of VAT-free, at-cost services.
They initially include services from the trio of founders such as: human resources, legal, payroll, accountancy, project management, heritage conservation and design, insurance, jobs and recruitment, procurement and health and safety.
But the aim is to widen the scope through services offered by new members that sign up.
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NNDC cabinet member Trevor Ivory said: 'In the current economic climate, the need for collaboration between local voluntary organisations has never been higher, with more than 25pc of organisations saying that they are uncertain about their survival.
'The ability for voluntary organisations to have access to a range of back office and administrative services through Coastshare will increase individual resilience and improve the capacity of the sector to deliver services that are more responsive to the needs of local communities.'
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The approach is possible because of new government legislation, which came into force in February, making the supply of services between not-for-profit bodies exempt from VAT, where those services are supplied at cost through a cost-sharing group.
Yarmouth council leader Trevor Wainwright said the council link up to develop a cost-sharing group, made it a 'pioneering innovative approach' nationally.
'Coastshare has the potential to deliver vital savings for both councils and not-for-profit organisations at a time when both sectors are under increasing financial pressure from the government to do more with less money,' he added.
'By giving not-for-profit organisations access to a raft of specialist advice and assistance at cost price, without VAT, this enables them to direct more money towards delivering frontline services where it is most needed, rather than having to pay for expensive back-office services, which could force smaller organisations to close.
'This approach would deliver income back to the councils to help reduce the cost of back-office services to taxpayers and retain resilience and flexibility in the service, without reducing the level of services or making redundancies.'
Brian Horner, chief executive of Voluntary Norfolk said Coastshare was 'an exciting example of the voluntary sector and the public sector working together for the benefit of local communities.'
Voluntary Norfolk was delighted to be part of the initiative.
'By enabling not-for-profit organisations in Norfolk to make cost savings we believe it will produce real benefits and enable them to spend more of their resources on frontline services,' he added.
The launch is at How Hill, Ludham, which has benefited from council back office services.
Ultimately, if it is successful, Coastshare could provide a wider range of services to the not-for-profit sector and expand to create high quality jobs in both local authority areas.