'Racism' blamed for decline in funding for ethnic minority charities

Survey shows that forty-five per cent have had funding cut since recession began

Ethnic minority charities are "under attack" as a result of underfunding, according to the foreword of a new report.

The report, by the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations, says that 45 per cent of 173 black and minority ethnic groups surveyed have suffered cuts by local authority and other funders since the recession began.

Gary Craig, a visiting professor in the school of social sciences at Durham University, says in the foreword to the report that failure to ensure proper resourcing of BME charities is a consequence of racism.

"Cemvo's study of the BME sector shows a sector not just under pressure but under attack," he writes.

Of the charities that have had cuts, more than four out of 10 have incomes of less than £10,000 a year, according to the report.

Thirty-nine per cent have suffered cuts from local councils alone, and the remainder have had funding withdrawn by councils, government departments and grant-making trusts.

One organisation, Reach Africa, which runs training and mentoring programmes, said its income had halved since the recession began.

"People have been coming to us asking for places on courses and we've had to tell them we're not doing them any more," said Alfred Komeh, director of the charity.

Hashmukh Pankhania, chief executive of Cemvo, said: "That nearly half of all BME charities are now struggling is a scandal. BME charities should be benefiting from increased funding in 2010, not facing cuts that will marginalise them and limit further the inadequate help already on offer."

The report asks the Government to give ring-fenced emergency funding to BME organisations and interim payments to help them meet their obligations. It also says the help available to the sector needs better marketing.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said the Government was committed to supporting all third sector organisations, including BME groups.

"The Office of the Third Sector funds Cemvo to work specifically with BME organisations in England to build their capacity and to represent the voice of BME third sector organisations to government," he said. In 2009/10, Cemvo received £269,000 to carry out this work, including specific activities to monitor and help BME groups in the recession."

ALSO ...

The Government has a "schizophrenic" attitude towards BME organisations, according to a new book. The Pied Piper, co-written by Joy Warmington, chief executive of equalities and human rights charity Brap, argues that BME organisations are seen as niche suppliers to particular communities but have to compete in a commissioning marketplace against large charities. "Faced with this environment, the real challenge is to help BME organisations better define their role," it says.

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