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Charities and community groups in Gloucester say cuts to city council grants are 'disproportionate'

By The Citizen  |  Posted: January 23, 2014

Charities and community groups in Gloucester say cuts to city council grants are 'disproportionate'

A meeting to discuss the cuts will take place at North Warehouse next week

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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.”

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10 comments

  • Apothegm_  |  January 26 2014, 10:30AM

    From the Charity Commission's website: "Campaigning and political activity can be legitimate and valuable activities for charities to undertake. However, political campaigning, or political activity, as defined in this guidance, must be undertaken by a charity only in the context of supporting the delivery of its charitable purposes. Unlike other forms of campaigning, it must not be the continuing and sole activity of the charity." More at http://tinyurl.com/lqqqsxh I would have said that MOST charities serve a useful purpose, although you can always point to a few which appear to have lost their way.

    |   1
  • RoadWombat  |  January 25 2014, 11:11AM

    The councils will still try and employ people in non-jobs initially. The culture of waste will take a long time to get weeded out, but eventually they'll get the message. In the short term, of course, they'll take money away from voluntary groups and so on, which is actually no bad thing as many of them are politically motivated and serve no useful purpose. A pity for the few (very few) genuine ones, though.

  • RoadWombat  |  January 25 2014, 11:10AM

    The councils will still try and employ people in non-jobs initially. The culture of waste will take a long time to get weeded out, but eventually they'll get the message. In the short term, of course, they'll take money away from voluntary groups and so on, which is actually no bad thing as many of them are politically motivated and serve no useful purpose. A pity for the few (very few) genuine ones, though.

  • bellringer23  |  January 25 2014, 12:56AM

    The council is always saying its short of money yet it yet it can find £51k for a Business Improvement Manager'. I would like to know what the job entails and why it pays so much.

    |   2
  • Richardburton  |  January 24 2014, 6:16PM

    What happened to the 80's movement? community working for their community get the banners out, go to the press tell them what you do with the money, show where the money goes. Nobody is going to fight your fight including councillors! Unless community's start fighting (Not physical) for the money together they will pick one off at a time and wait for the fighting among you!

    |   1
  • Apothegm_  |  January 24 2014, 11:50AM

    Nobody seems to have noticed yet that a Business Improvement Manager is the greater part of BIMbo...

    |   4
  • IsitJimKerr  |  January 24 2014, 10:57AM

    Yet we can find £51k for a 'business improvement manager'. Firstly, I see we are not allowed to comment on this, as obviously it's a stitch up. Secondly, I hope the manager in question has a very high target to achieve. We could have two nurses for that money, so I hope her boyf doesn't get her too tired! As to voluntary money, it will always be disproportionally reduced, as it was obviously disproportionally increased when we had loads of money. Now we are skint, so the VAST number of voluntary organisations will get even less.

    |   3
  • Apothegm_  |  January 24 2014, 10:03AM

    From another TiG headline: "Gloucester City Council IT facilities outsourced to private firm Civica to save £100,000 per year." So they'd be able to avoid the draft budget cuts to the voluntary sector by using the savings from the IT outsourcing! Result! (partial...)

    |   3
  • JemmyWood  |  January 24 2014, 8:46AM

    So they can cut the grants to volunteer groups but give the council building a shiney new reception area................

    |   5
  • Justica  |  January 24 2014, 8:31AM

    How ironic, in another article we see that with all these cuts and belt tightening, the council boss and his other half are nicely cushioned in their safe little numbers !

    |   5

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