Stoke-on-Trent's CVS begins charging for its services

Vast asks charities for two to 10 per cent of grants or contracts they win with its help

Sajid Hashmi, chief executive of CVS Vast
Sajid Hashmi, chief executive of CVS Vast

Stoke-on-Trent's council for voluntary service has begun charging charities a proportion of the grants and contracts they win with its support, and will publish a guide showing others how to do the same.

The CVS, called Vast, charges charities and voluntary groups between two and 10 per cent of the administration budget that is allocated to them under grants and contracts from local authorities and grant-making trusts if a bid is successful.

The percentage it charges is based on how much support it has given the charity in preparing its bid.

Sajid Hashmi, chief executive of Vast, told Third Sector he was producing some guidance that would be distributed to other councils for voluntary service through the local infrastructure umbrella body Navca.

He said the charges were introduced because of cuts in local authority funding.

"Our funding from Stoke City Council, which was worth £50,000 last year, runs out in April," he said. "The council will not continue to fund us, so we had to find another way of bringing in money.

"Some charities were annoyed when we started charging for helping them to write bids," he said. "But we said there was no choice about it. A lot of them stopped using our services at first but they have come back now."

Kevin Curley, chief executive of Navca, said: "The principle of charging for services is sound, but the practice of charging a proportion of the value of grants and contracts is unusual and I'm not aware of any other local support bodies that do this."

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