Harrow reduces voluntary sector budget by 15 per cent

The north-west London borough blames a 27 per cent cut in its funding from central government

Voluntary sector budget reduced
Voluntary sector budget reduced

Harrow Council has cut its voluntary sector budget by 15 per cent and reduced the number of organisations receiving grants from 91 to 31.

At a meeting last week, the cabinet of the Labour-led north-west London council approved plans for the voluntary sector grants budget in 2011/12, reducing it by 15 per cent to £669,360, in response to a 27 per cent cut in the council's overall settlement from central government over the next four years.

The council said it received a record 131 applications for funding for this period, totalling almost £2.3m.

Grants for 31 organisations were approved, totalling £545,449, and the authority said it has set aside a further £40,481 for any organisations that successfully appeal against its decision or for distribution to organisations on its reserve list.

The council said £62,649 of the budget would be used to extend existing grant payments for 2010/11 for an extra month. It added that £20,781 would be used to fund support services for the voluntary sector.

Harrow & Wealdstone Shopmobility, which received a grant from the council last year and provides disabled people with manual wheelchairs and mechanical scooters, was one of the organisations that lost out this year.

Helen Dashwood, manager of the charity, told Third Sector it would be appealing against the decision. She said it received a grant of £15,330 from the council last year and that this was a significant proportion of the charity's funding.

"That pays my salary and everyone else is a volunteer," she said.

Rekha Shah, portfolio holder for community and cultural services for Harrow Council, said that because the government was "recklessly cutting council budgets" it could not give as much funding to the voluntary sector as it would like.

"This is a problem we share with the voluntary sector and it demands a shared solution," she said.

"We recently consulted with voluntary groups on the issue and are now working on a new grant funding system that will strengthen our partnership with the sector and ensure we deliver the best results for people in Harrow."

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Harrow Council

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