Borough Receives Fourth Highest Voluntary Sector Spend

LBH&F are 'protecting the grants budget by selling buildings'

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H&F is 4th in highest in terms of spend per head - £26 per person, compared to £9 per person in Ealing and just £1 per person in Havering, MP Greg Hands said in his weekly review.

The first round of voluntary sector grants for the year ahead have been agreed. There will be a second round later in the year,

The Council's Cabinet agreed an overall allocation of £4.2 million to the local voluntary sector, a reduction of £158k for 2010/11. Around 60 members of the public attended the meeting including six deputations from unsuccessful groups. Thirty five organisations were awarded a total of £2.6 million, including 16 organisations receiving financial support for the first time.

The second round of funding to retender the remainder of the budget will be advertised later this year. The Council its appreciation of the role the voluntary sector plays in the borough is reflected in the fact that it spends significantly more on the voluntary sector than the majority of London councils and points out that other boroughs have cut their grants budgets by 50% or 60%

However, it says that, as the council has to find £55 million in savings over the next three years, all groups have to follow the council's lead in doing more fore less. Council Leader, Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, says; "The national economic crisis means we have to radically rethink how we provide services and we expect the organisations we fund to do likewise. We are, however, asking third sector organisations to share less of the budget reduction than other council services - only £158k.

Protecting the grants budget by selling buildings

"In a totally unprecedented move, we have stated very publicly that we will put services before buildings," adds Cllr Greenhalgh. "To protect frontline services, including the grants budget, we are consulting on selling nine buildings that are either underused or provide poor value for money. The voluntary sector is hugely important in supporting local residents, but in these difficult times we must all do more for less."

The council says these buildings could raise an estimated £20 million which would contribute towards paying off council debt and cutting interest repayments. Rental payments will also be saved. In total £2.5 million in cash would be freed – money we would otherwise have to find from existing budgets.

The Council has shrunk its use of space by 40 per cent already with asset sales of £42 million. Now the council is asking voluntary groups to do the same.

The views expressed in this column are those of the MP, Greg Hands in his weekly newsletter and do not reflect the opinions of Neighbourhood Net or the editors. We are requesting all party MPs to submit a weekly update to editor@hammersmithtoday.co.uk to express their views.

July 21, 2010