Poorest areas to get bulk of £1.1m in extra funding

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THIRTEEN of Sheffield’s poorest areas are to benefit from £1.1 million of extra funding from the Government towards community projects - and residents will have a say about how the money is spent.

The cash will be allocated through Sheffield Council’s Community Assemblies - where residents can give their views - and funding will be open to bids from local charities, voluntary organisations and community groups.

The bulk of the money is being given to deprived wards in the north and east of the city.

The news was welcomed by community groups in Firth Park, one of the areas which will receive the most funding - more than £150,000. Linda Daniels, of the tenants’ and residents’ association on the Brushes Estate in Firth Park, said: “We already run a group called Brushes Busy Kids, for eights to 14s, and there are crafts groups for the elderly on the estate.

“The extra funding could be used for more activities for both young people, to keep them out of trouble, and old people, to stop them getting lonely at home.

“Other ways it could be spent is on more projects to help unemployed people back into work. It sounds quite a lot of money but there are quite a few voluntary groups in the area, so I’m not sure how far it will stretch, though.”

Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore said the funding was welcome but said it was small when set against Government cuts.

She also accused Lib Dems of hypocrisy for supporting the announcement when it previously accusing Labour of having a ‘favoured areas’ policy for prioritising spending on the same basis.

She said: “This announcement is all well and good but it’s not much considering the Government is reducing the council’s budget by £200 million over four years and cuts to the voluntary sector’s budget.”

The funding comes from the Government’s Community First programme to help voluntary and community projects, in line with PM David Cameron’s Big Society theme.

Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of Sheffield Council’s opposition Lib Dem group, said: “I’m delighted the Coalition have made over £1,100,000 of new investment available to improve the lives of communities in Sheffield. What’s more, its great news that it will be local people who allocate these funds rather than Labour’s Town Hall officials.

“This fund will allow local people to work together, take control of their lives and create the change they want to see. They are the real experts on what improvements need to be made in their community.”

n Coun Dore said the council would be using the New Homes Bonus as part of a large project to build new homes and bring empty ones back into use but that full details have not yet been finalised.