Charities hit by council cuts

2 Aug 11
English local authorities have cut their funding to the voluntary sector by more than £110m this year, according to research published today.

Lucy Phillips | 2 August 2011

English local authorities have cut their funding to the voluntary sector by more than £110m this year, according to research published today.

The anti-cuts campaigners False Economy said more than 2,000 charities were having their council funding reduced or withdrawn altogether. The cuts total £110m so far but the group warned that the final figure was likely to be much higher.  

The research, backed by the Trades Union Congress, was based on 265 Freedom of Information requests to councils. It includes funding reductions of 5% or more.

England’s biggest local authority, Birmingham City Council, has cut funding to the largest number of charities at 191.

Voluntary organisations for children and young people have been hit hardest, with 382 experiencing reductions. Some 151 disability charities, 142 elderly care charities and 112 adult care charities are also bearing the brunt of the cuts.

TUC  general secretary Brendan Barber said: 'These deep cuts to voluntary groups across the UK show that government claims that charities can replace direct services currently provided by central or local government are false. It sounds great, but in practice, the Big Society is looking more and more like a big con.'

False Economy's campaign director Clifford Singer added: 'Ministers talk up localism and say services will be better shaped locally, but the huge front-loaded cuts to councils mean that local decision-making simply gives councils the choice of which vulnerable people they should make suffer for an economic crisis they did nothing to cause.'

But the Local Government Association said councils had no choice but to withdraw funding from the third sector. LGA chair Sir Merrick Cockell said: ‘The severity of cuts to council budgets means savings are having to be made across the board, and, unfortunately, funding to charities, voluntary organisations and community groups is not exempt.

‘Decisions to reduce financial support to the voluntary sector will never be taken lightly and local authorities have rightly carried out full and frank consultations before reducing funding to groups.’

A spokesman from the Department for Communities and Local Government insisted councils had been given a ‘fair and progressive funding settlement’ that protected frontline services and the most vulnerable.

‘Councils have challenging decisions to make around how they prioritise spending but the government is clear that councils must resist any temptation to pass on disproportionate savings to the voluntary sector,’ the spokesman added.


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