Strategic partners programme axe brings redundancy fears

Community Matters will cut more than half its workforce, and the Women's Resource Centre says it will 'sit down with staff' to discuss the impact of its funding loss

Community Matters
Community Matters

The local umbrella body Community Matters is to cut more than half of its staff after it heard that it will not receive further funding from the Office for Civil Society's strategic partnership programme.

On Tuesday, the OCS confirmed the nine organisations and partnerships, comprising 17 organisations in total, that would receive funding from the programme over its final three years. Twenty-four existing strategic partners missed out.

David Tyler, chief executive of Community Matters, which bid for cash from the programme in partnership with the umbrella body Action with Communities in Rural England, said the loss of funding meant the organisation would have to cut its 21-strong staff down to "about 10".

Community Matters received £261,603 from the programme in 2010/11, which amounted to 16 per cent of its total income.

"It's pretty devastating and it will have a huge impact on us," said Tyler. "I thought we had a strong, credible model, but we will have to scale down now, though we still want to be a voice to government. Beyond next year, our future is uncertain."

The Women's Resource Centre, which supports women's organisations, was also told that it would receive no more funding from the programme. It received £261,603 in 2010/11, which represented almost 25 per cent of its income.

Vivienne Hayes, chief executive of the Women's Resource Centre, said the charity could not rule out redundancies as a result of the funding cut and she would be "sitting down with the staff" to discuss the issue.

Volunteering England confirmed that it would make 29 of its 55 staff redundant, after it was awarded £500,000 from the strategic partners programme in 2011/12.

In a statement published yesterday, the charity said it had made a "working assumption" that it would be successful in receiving the £500,000 when it made its redundancy plans, which were originally announced last year and anticipated the loss of 31 jobs. The charity received £1.6m from the strategic partnership programme in 2010/11.

The statement said it had created some new posts as part of the restructure, which involved increasing the amount of research that the charity will carry out.

The environmental volunteering charity BTCV, which received £331,200 from the programme last year, also missed out. The programme contributed less than 1 per cent of the charity's total annual income, but a BTCV spokeswoman refused to rule out redundancies.

The Mentoring and Befriending Foundation, which has also been axed from the programme, has had to reduce its staff from 32 to 14 as a result of the funding cut. The foundation received more than £1m under the programme in 2010/11.

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