Plans to slash £450k from volunteer budgets

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FEARS have been raised over a possible £450,000 cut to Sheffield Council’s grant aid budget for voluntary and community groups.

Officers have warned all council budgets must be cut by an average of 17.5 per cent over the next two years .

Voluntary and community groups received £2,690,400 this year - but next year that could drop to £2,421,360.

In 2013/14 it could be reduced again to £2,239,758.

The potential savings are revealed in a report due to go before Sheffield Council’s cabinet tomorrow.

A new Voluntary Sector Grants Fund is to be created, through which groups will have to apply for funding.

In the report, James Henderson, of the Deputy Chief Executive’s department, said: “Operation of the fund would be guided by basic principles - the need to contribute to achievement of current council priorities, contribute to the council’s public sector equality duty, and ensure best value for money.”

Current council priorities are ‘tackling poverty, and promoting social justice, social and financial inclusion’.

The new scheme, if it goes ahead will start next June.

The council will then commission community and voluntary groups for particular services, to ensure the grants are not paying for duplicate services.

Opposition Lib Dem councillors are against the plans.

Lib Dem group leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed said: “A possible 17.5 per cent budget cut and significant changes to the funding system without any consultation is unfair and represents a real slap in the face for local voluntary and community groups, who do some excellent work for Sheffield.”

“We believe the system should change - but the dozens of affected groups and individuals should have their say first.”

A spokeswoman for the Labour group said no decisions had yet been taken.