Monday, 15 September 2014

Voluntary groups bear burden of council cuts

Councils are cutting grant funding to the voluntary sector more than their own budgets are being reduced, a report out today has claimed.

Membership organisation Compact Voice concluded through freedom of information requests sent out this summer local authorities are cutting grant funding disproportionately.

It found the amount of spending through direct contracts with the voluntary sector has reduced and believes the local voluntary sector is being seen as a ‘soft target’ for budget reduction.

Compact Voice is concerned this will lead to a big drop in funding for local voluntary organisations as the number of opportunities for them to deliver services dwindles.

The FOIs did reveal many local authorities are following the principles of the ‘compact’ – an agreement between the government and voluntary and community sector organisations – such as giving enough notice about possible changes to funding.

James Allen, head of Compact Voice, said: ‘The fact that so many local areas continue to uphold the principles of the compact is reassuring, and should provide sufficient motivation to encourage others that it is possible.’

But he added: ‘The department for Communities and Local Government should look at how they are enforcing their best value guidance, as many areas are seemingly not being compelled to follow it.’

Neil Cleevely, director of policy and communications at charity National Association for Voluntary and Community Action, said: ‘There are too many areas where disproportionate cuts have been made but what is more important is that over a third of authorities increased their grant funding available to local charities and community groups.

‘This proves that disproportionate cuts can be avoided if there is a political will.’

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