Charities face public cash cuts

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THE AMOUNT of public money made available to voluntary organisations and charities in Whitby and district will be significantly reduced in the next financial year.

Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) has announced that the funding will fall from more than £275,000 to £243,600 from April.

The decision has been made after the council was told it must save £2.5 million from its budget.

Funding from North Yorkshire County Council for the voluntary sector has also been drastically reduced.

SBC cabinet member councillor Andrew Backhouse said: “No-one likes to make these cuts, but we have tried to be as helpful as we can while being mindful of our budget. “We have tried if at all possible to base our budget on the results of our survey of residents, and one of the things that came back was that we should be spending less on charitable and voluntary organisations.

“However we did not want to be too harsh. It will have an impact, but hopefully it will not have a major detrimental impact on their services. Charities and voluntary organisations provide valuable work.

“Funding from the borough council is only part of their income stream.”

However Labour borough councillor David Billing condemned the decision calling it “penny-wise, pound-foolish”.

“I think it’s a very short sighted approach,” he said.

“If we’re getting benefits from what voluntary organisations are doing it seems foolish to try and stifle them at their roots.

“It seems to run contrary to what the Government say they want to do with their Big Society.”

He also said he believes that voluntary organisations and charities will be needed more than ever, as people suffer job losses and struggle financially because of spending cuts.

“I strongly support grants to the Citizens’ Advice Bureau for example, “ he added.

“A little bit of debt advice can save people misery and additional cost.”

Jill Mandy, chief executive of the Scarborough and District Citizens’ Advice Bureau which helps many Whitby people, said the voluntary sector would suffer but stressed that the cuts SBC is imposing are less severe than in other parts of the country.

“The pot of money has been reduced, and it will have implications for the voluntary sector, “ she said.

“However the council are suffering as well. They do not have a statutory obligation to fund us and while they haven’t exactly been generous, they haven’t been too mean either.

“Everybody is facing problems and we have to accept that.”

Although the Citizens’ Advice Bureau does not yet know how much money they will receive from April, they have already decided to scrap a Wednesday evening session in Scarborough because of budget constraints.