Peabody's Community Fund in row after grants review delays

The Peabody Community Fund, the Peabody Trust's grant-making arm, has postponed 84 grant application decisions while a consultant reviews its output.

The fund, which assists urban regeneration and fights poverty in London, awarded £589,000 to around 60 charities last year.

Last October, the fund's manager Howard Doe retired after 22 years. Maura Santos, the trust's director of community regeneration, took over the running of the fund and earlier this year appointed an independent consultant to carry out the first review of its activities since it was formed in 1981.

Progress has stalled on all 84 of last year's applications while the review is carried out, and no new applications are being accepted.

But the fund has come under fire for failing to tell applicants about the review. Charterhouse in Southwark submitted an application last August and, apart from a letter in October stating that the fund had postponed a grants committee meeting that month until March 2004, heard no more from the trust until last week.

On 27 April, Rosemary Hill, Charterhouse's assistant director of fundraising, wrote to Santos to ask about the outcome of the March meeting. Two days later, she received a reply explaining that the review was under way and that the trust's governors would decide on the future direction and scope of the fund on 6 May.

"Why on earth didn't they tell us six months ago?" said Hill. "I would have appreciated a letter then to show me where my grant stood."

Karen Crawshaw, the trust's head of communications, said the onus was on Charterhouse to contact the trust. She added that a statement that the fund was under review had been on the trust's website since "perhaps January".

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