North Yorkshire CVS shut down by local authority funding changes

The council's new competitive tendering model has led Craven CVS to close and other groups to restructure

North Yorkshire County Council
North Yorkshire County Council

A council for voluntary service has closed and several others have lost funding after North Yorkshire County Council changed the way it supports infrastructure organisations.

The council, in conjunction with local clinical commissioning groups, previously funded infrastructure groups across the county. But under its new competitive tendering model, which began this week, it awarded a £1.4m, three-year grant solely to Community First Yorkshire, a new organisation formed by the merger of Rural Action Yorkshire and the North Yorkshire & York Forum.

Community First Yorkshire, which is based in Askham Bryan, near York, will use the money to support charities across North Yorkshire.

Craven CVS and Craven Volunteer Centre have closed because of the loss of funding. Several other infrastructure groups in the county are restructuring after losing funds.

Karen Weaver, chief executive of Harrogate & Ripon Centres for Voluntary Service, which lost three staff to Community First Yorkshire under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations, praised the local authority for maintaining its level of infrastructure funding and for awarding a three-year grant, but questioned whether one organisation was best placed to meet the needs of charities in England's largest county.

"I'm sure the commissioners didn't set out with the intention of small, locally based charities closing, but that's what's happening," said Weaver. "North Yorkshire is huge and I'm not sure county-wide solutions are the best way of harnessing local community action."

Weaver said her CVS would continue with two staff for at least two years while attempting to find "a viable new model".

Leah Swain, chief executive of Community First Yorkshire, said it would provide a "consistently high-quality service across the county". She said: "The sector is changing. We've all got to look for transformational changes and review the way we work."

A council spokesman said the changes reflected the need for a more flexible service. He added: "The council carried out an in-depth review of voluntary and community sector infrastructure in 2015/16, and in 2016 a new competitive process for funding of infrastructure support was introduced. 

"The review considered best practice, the views of suppliers and the views of a sample of 160 voluntary and community organisations with regard to the current services they receive and demand for future support."

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