North-east grants hit by trouble at the Rock

Grant-making experts say the Northern Rock Foundation's decision to reduce grants by up to £9m will deprive north-east charities of vital funds.

Last week, the foundation said "financial uncertainties" at its parent company, mortgage lender Northern Rock, had forced it to reduce its proposed £30m grants for this year to between £21m and £22m (Third Sector Online, 15 October).

Rob Williamson, director of policy and communications at the foundation, said new initiatives would be postponed. "Areas of work in the pipeline will now not go ahead," he said.

Virgin, which is leading a consortium bid for Northern Rock, has promised to honour the company's commitment to give 15 per cent of profits to the charity. David Emerson, chief executive of the Association of Charitable Foundations, said this was key to the charity's future. "Without it, there could be a loss of substantial funding for the north east," he said.

George Hepburn, head of the Community Foundation serving Tyne & Wear, said: "The foundation will have to choose its priorities more carefully if it doesn't have the money to spend."

In the past month, the foundation has given £2.25m to charities in the north east.

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