Grant change up for debate

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CHANGES to how almost 1,200 voluntary groups around Sheffield receive council funding are set to be approved today.

As part of measures to absorb £84 million of budget cuts during 2011/12, Sheffield Council is reducing the £71.2 million it gives to voluntary, community and religious groups by 15 per cent.

In most cases, instead of groups bidding for grants, the council will decide which services it wants to fund, then ask groups to bid for the commission to provide them.

The proposals are set to be approved at a meeting of the ruling cabinet today.

The council plans to retain some funding to hand out as grants - some of which will be allocated by Community Assemblies - and money to invest in new ideas proposed by voluntary groups.

A report to the cabinet meeting recognises the cut in funding for voluntary and community groups will cause “potential tension” as is it is expected such organisations will take on more work because of cuts to state-provided services. Sheffield Mental Health Action Group has said it fears it may not be able to compete with national charities if the council puts the service out for tender.