Sixteen Derby charities have their council grants extended

Matthew Allbones of Community Action Derby says charities used best value guidance

Matthew Allbones
Matthew Allbones

Sixteen charities have had their grants from Derby City Council extended after challenging the local authority using new statutory guidance.

The extensions were made after Community Action Derby, which represents voluntary groups in the city, warned council representatives that they had not followed the Communities and Local Government department’s Best Value Statutory Guidance.

The guidance, introduced in September, says local authorities should consult organisations when planning to decommission services. It was issued after Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, declared that councils should not make cuts to their voluntary sector funding that were proportionately larger than cuts to their own budgets.

The council voted last April to cut its voluntary sector grants budget from £2.7m to £1.8m, and to set up a programme for administering the new budget, which was due to take effect this month.

Matthew Allbones, operations director at CAD, said his organisation started to use the guidance as soon as it came into force in September.

"The council had run a consultation on what the priorities for its new, reduced voluntary sector grants budget should be, but I don’t think it had realised that this was not enough to meet the requirements in the statutory guidance," he said.

Allbones said CAD told council representatives in September that the council should consult all charities that would lose funding. He said CAD realised last month that although the council had opened a consultation with the charities that had unsuccessfully applied to the new fund, it had not consulted the charities that had not applied.

As a result of CAD’s challenge, Allbones said, the charities that had unsuccessfully applied to the new fund would have their funding extended until the end of March this year.

The charities that did not apply to the new fund would have their funding extended until June or July, he said, because the council had opened a 12-week consultation about decommissioning their services this month and would have to reconsider the decision once this was closed, then give the charities 12 weeks’ notice if it decided to stick to its initial plan.

"The statutory guidance has allowed all of the charities to have their funding extended for three or seven months," said Allbones. "It has also meant that they have a second chance to ask the council not to cut their funding. We will be keeping a close eye on other ways in which we can use this guidance to secure more funding for local charities in future."

Ruth Skelton, cabinet member for adult social care and health at Derby City Council, said it was important to the council that it continued to work with the voluntary sector in the city.

"Unfortunately, we do not have the funding we used to have and we must make careful decisions about how we assist groups in the future," she said. "To that end, we are in discussions with many voluntary sector groups in the city and we will make a decision regarding funding once these are completed."

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