Dozens of charities face funding cuts

FUNDING to dozens of charities and community groups across North Herts and Stevenage is being cut, resulting in redundancy and reduced services.

Research published by anti-cuts website False Economy on Tuesday reveals that Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) is cutting funds to 28 charities and community groups, totalling �77,252.

Funding for 12 community associations in Stevenage will be slashed from �137,165 in 2010/11 to �120,000 in 2011/12.

A further 12 Stevenage-based charities, including React Disability Group and young people’s charity MBA Association, face cuts worth a total of �53,002.

Treasurer of React Disability Group, Brian Breen, said: “The manager has been made redundant because we can’t afford to pay him.

“We have to charge for our help now because it’s the only bit of revenue we get.

“We are trying to deliver a service and are being prevented.”

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A number of groups, including homeless charity Stevenage Haven and counselling service Relate North Herts and Stevenage, have had their funding from SBC withdrawn altogether.

Frankie Prudgill, project manager at Stevenage Haven, said: “It will greatly affect the charity. Any cuts affect us a lot.

“It’s putting more pressure on the staff to fundraise in a climate where it is really difficult.”

Funding for four charities, worth �7,085, has been cancelled with no negative impact, mainly due to one-off expenditure.

False Economy says that North Herts District Council’s voluntary sector grants budget has risen from �541,570 in 2010/11 to �620,600 in 2011/12, but will then fall to �493,180 by 2014/15.

Six charities, including the North Herts Citizens’ Advice Bureau and North Herts CVS, face substantive cuts, while five charities face minor cuts.

Jacquie Hime, director of North Herts CVS, said: “We will see a 28 per cent reduction in funds over four years – 7.1 per cent a year.

“We now shut on a Friday to the public as a direct result of the cuts because our office manager had to have her hours cut.”

The council will provide new funding for Hitchin British Schools’ Trust of �11,050 in 2011/12, though this will fall to �8,860 by 2014/15.

The council will also provide new funding of �72,450 in 2011/12 to three town centre partnerships – Hitchin Initiative, Letchworth Garden City Town Centre Partnership and Royston Town Centre Forum – but this will fall to �38,070 by 2014/15.

A spokesman for SBC said: “We are committed to supporting charities and community groups and believe that they provide an invaluable service.

“Where funding cuts mean that we have to reduce financial support to some organisations, we are working with them in different ways to help them become more sustainable and work with each other to reduce the impact of any cuts.”

There was no one available to comment from North Herts District Council.