Charities Lose Funding, Forcing One to Close

THREE charities have had their funding cut, forcing one to close after 22 years in Comet country. The Stevenage Community Trust, the Stevenage Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) and Action for Children, based on North Road in the town, have been hit with

THREE charities have had their funding cut, forcing one to close after 22 years in Comet country.

The Stevenage Community Trust, the Stevenage Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) and Action for Children, based on North Road in the town, have been hit with cuts totalling more than �470,000.

Action for Children (formerly NCH), which supports vulnerable families living in Stevenage and North Herts, has been forced to close after Herts County Council (HCC) withdrew about �450,000 of funding.

Project manager Bridy Speller said: "HCC has cut support following a review of their family support services across the county."


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She added: "We have helped thousands of families over the years. We work with 400 or so every year."

Stevenage CVS has had its funding from Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) cut by �13,800 - 32 per cent - and Ann Jansz, chief executive of the CVS, said: "It's a sign of the times," adding: "The funding needs to go to services like the CAB and Credit Union - ones working with low income families."

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But the funding cut to the CVS has come at a time when the charity is seeing an increase in demand from voluntary or community groups which are restructuring, or starting up to work with disadvantaged people.

Ms Jansz said: "Some of our grand plans will need to be scaled down" and "some of the services we are offering in terms of support to the borough council will have to be looked at."

The CVS will also be looking at ways to generate more income, such as sponsorship opportunities.

Ms Jansz said: "We are mindful that if the income generation doesn't work we need to look again at things."

She said the organisation's biggest expenditure is salaries - employing eight members of staff.

"At the end of the year we will look again at our services and then we may have to look at a radical restructure of our core, but we are fairly optimistic we won't have to do this."

SBC has pulled the plug on 80 per cent - �8,000 - of its annual funding to the Stevenage Community Trust.

For 10 years SBC has made an annual contribution of �10,000 to the Trust.

Pat Henry, the Trust's acting director, said: "The Trust hoped to continue its level of grant giving, particularly at this time where there is a greater need, but I am sure it will need to review the situation at the next trustees meeting.

"We are probably going to have to restrict the amount of grants we give."

A spokesman for HCC said: "Our contract with Action for Children comes to a natural end on March 31.

"The money saved will be reinvested in our support services for children and families and there will be no job losses.

"We will improve coordination between departments to provide a more efficient and effective service for 0 to 19s in Hertfordshire.

"This is a positive development for children and young people in Stevenage, who will continue to be served by the Noel Family Centre in Letchworth."

A spokesman for SBC said: "This year the council has received requests for funding from voluntary and community organisations totalling �728,202. The budget for grant aid is �464,988.

"This means the council has been faced with some difficult decisions and, given the current economic climate, has been forced to target resources at those organisations which contribute to its priorities for the coming year.

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