Chelmsford Borough Council increases voluntary sector budget by 33 per cent

Tory authority says that, despite overall cuts of 3.5 per cent, it wants to support the big society

Chelmsford Borough Council’s Civic Centre
Chelmsford Borough Council’s Civic Centre

Chelmsford Borough Council has increased its voluntary sector budget by 33 per cent for the next financial year.

The Conservative-led council has been told to make overall savings of 3.5 per cent over the financial year 2011/12 – a cut of £1.7m on the previous year. However, it has chosen to increase its voluntary sector budget from £279,000 to £378,000.

The voluntary sector budget is made up of grants and four service-level contracts with Chelmsford YMCA, Chelmsford Citizens Advice Bureau, Chelmsford Council for Voluntary Service and Digital Dance, a community dance project.

A spokesman for the council told Third Sector it had made the decision with the government's big society agenda in mind.

He said some of the extra £99,000 could go towards existing contracts, but that the majority would be available for local voluntary organisations to apply for under the current grants criteria.

Organisations should be able to apply for this between August and October, he said.

"Chelmsford Borough Council recognises the need to support the principles behind the idea of the big society to ensure that community organisations continue to thrive and get much-needed support during the difficult financial climate that the country finds itself in at present," he added.

It follows news of significant funding cuts to voluntary sector budgets by other councils in recent weeks. These include a 48 per cent voluntary sector budget cut by Liverpool City Council and a cut of 19 per cent by Manchester City Council over the next two years.

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