Grassroots Grants programme blamed for cuts

Local authorities could see Government's £130m fund as an excuse to cut sector spending, warns infrastructure group

Local authorities could be using the new national £130m Grassroots Grants programme as an excuse to cut their own grants to voluntary organisations, Navca has warned.

Kevin Curley, chief executive of the local infrastructure group, raised his concerns with third sector minister Kevin Brennan after Hastings Borough Council abolished its small grants programme and Gloucester City Council proposed reducing its voluntary sector budget by 5 per cent (Third Sector Online, 13 January).

Grassroots Grants will provide grants of between £250 and £5,000 to selected community organisations until 2011. "We would like the Office of the Third Sector to make it clear it would be inappropriate for local authorities to use Grassroots Grants as an excuse to cut their own grants," he said.

"It would be catastrophic for the health of the local voluntary sector if small grants were to be cut now because it will be difficult to get them back in two years when Grassroots Grants ends."

Steve Manwaring, director of Hastings Voluntary Action, criticised Hastings Borough Council's decision to end its £10,000 small grants programme. "At a time when government nationally is recognising the importance of this type of support, it is perverse there is disinvestment at a local level," he said. "This is an unsustainable approach to funding that will create long-term problems for voluntary organisations."

Hastings Council said the decision was not linked to the Grassroots Grants programme.

- See Editorial, page 12.

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