PROPOSED cuts to voluntary sector grants in Gloucester have been labelled “disproportionate” as community organisations prepare to feel the bite.
Gloucester City Council finance bosses have the tricky job of making ends meet in the face of never-ending central government cuts, and the voluntary and community services (VCS) sector will be one of those likely to feel the pinch.
The council’s draft budget proposes a £100,000 slimming of the amount it gives to voluntary organisations, although GAVCA – Gloucestershire Association for Voluntary and Community Action – said it’s actually more like three times that.
It cites other reductions, such as rent support and service level agreements, cuts to which would total £310,000 if the proposals are passed next month.
GAVCA will raise its concerns next Thursday at the Grants and Community Services Forum meeting.
The report said: “We are very concerned at the disproportionate and continual eroding of Gloucester City Council’s VCS grants budget and the impact this will have on some of the most marginalised and disadvantaged communities in Gloucester.
“We understand that the council, like the rest of the public sector, is under severe pressure to make efficiency savings and to demonstrate value for money in the way it utilises its resources, but we are worried at how this is resulting in a shift away from grant-funding the VCS, despite evidence of how the VCS is helping the council achieve its objectives and providing excellent value for money.
“The VCS grants budget has already been cut by 14 per cent over the past three years (£625,333 in 2011/12 down to £535,700 in 2013/14 – a reduction of nearly £90,000).
“The proposed reductions for 2014/15 cumulatively amount to a further reduction of £310,000, compared to a budget in 2013/14 of £535,700 – ie. a 58 per cent reduction on the 2013-14 budget.
“In contrast, the city council’s income in 2014/15 is expected to be £15.8million, compared to £16.7million in 2013/14 – ie a reduction of five per cent and, over the next three years, a reduction of 14 per cent.
“So, whether considered over one year or over the next three years, the proposed cut to VCS funding is clearly quite disproportionate.”
All current grants for the voluntary sector will come to an end on March 31.
Those groups will then have to reapply for funds from a smaller pot.
Some, including the Together in Matson group, fear it could mean the end for them, but the council stressed that consultations are ongoing and there is still time to influence the final decision.
A city council spokesman said: “The consultation period for this year’s budget consultation is still under way and, as part of this consultation process, there will be a meeting with the voluntary sector groups on Thursday, January 30, so they can have their say.
“Until all responses have been received and feedback considered, it would be wrong to make any comment on this matter.”