By Max Clarke

The first payments from the £100m Transition Fund that will provide vital support to charities have been announced today by Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society.

It will provide grants to many organisations to allow them to prepare for the future opportunities opened up by the Big Society.

The Transition Fund is recognition of the important role civil society organisations have in supporting people and communities, from providing shelter to homeless people, to delivering meals for the elderly, to training for the unemployed.

Even though 75% of charities receive no funding from the state, some organisations have become highly dependent on funding from public bodies and are now being affected by the reductions in public spending.

The money will fund the crucial changes that these organisations need to make to take advantage of the new opportunities available to them from opening up public sector contracts; these changes may include restructuring, scaling up or merging or diversifying income streams.