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Charities for disabled people, transport schemes for the elderly and children's organisations including Barnardo's all face funding cuts after Birmingham slashed pounds 15 million from its budget for charitable and voluntary organisations. Many now face a bleak, uncertain future. JONATHAN WALKER and JANE TYLER report.

ALMOST 200 different groups have had their local funding cut by Birmingham City Council as it attempts to save pounds 212 million in the current financial year.

They include projects funded by a Government scheme called the Working Neighbourhoods Fund, which has been scrapped. Other cuts have simply been imposed by the city council.

Full details, obtained by campaigners through a Freedom of Information request, show that the biggest loser was Birmingham Disability Consortium, which helps get disabled people into work and lost pounds 2,543,503.

Shencare Community Transport, which provides transport services for elderly people, lost pounds 34,200.

Children's charity Action for Children, which provides a range of services including support for young carers, lost pounds 296,247, while Barnardo's lost pounds 65,101.

Arts funding was cut and The Drum, a national centre for Black British arts and culture, lost pounds 85,351, while the Midlands Arts Centre, commonly known as mac, lost pounds 105,579.

But a huge range of smaller organisations also suffered cuts which could make a major difference to their ability to continue serving to local people. For example, St Francis Youth and Community Centre in Bournville lost pounds 2,472 - its entire council grant - while Aston Football Club lost its entire grant of pounds 4,000 and Small Heath Boxing Club lost its entire grant of pounds 4,972. And ten scout groups, which had been receiving grants of between pounds 585 and pounds 8,000, all lost their funding.

Birmingham City Council said many of the organisations had known in advance that their funding was due to end.

Coun Sue Anderson, Cabinet Member for Adults and Communities, said: "Birmingham City Council is committed to providing more than pounds 25 million this year for approximately 1,800 organisations.

"Decisions around funding have to take into account local and national priorities as well as budget restraints - Birmingham City Council has to save pounds 212 million this year and all spend is therefore being reviewed to ensure value for money.

"Some organisations in Birmingham that have always known that the funding that they secured is time limited and would come to an end, such as the Working Neighbourhoods Fund.

"The third sector is a crucial partner in delivering first class care for Birmingham citizens.

"However, organisations receiving funding must demonstrate they will provide the right outcomes for the people in most need, meet the council's priorities and provide value for money - funding cannot be based simply on previous funding history."

Details of the cuts were compiled by campaigners False Economy, which is backed by trade unions and opposes Government spending cuts.

Labour MP Jack Dromey (Lab, Erdington) said: "The Government talks about creating a big society but has hit councils with huge front-loaded cuts that go too deep, too fast. The voluntary sector and community groups in Birmingham and Britain are paying the price."

But he claimed the city council had also failed to "stand up for Birmingham" and secure a fair share of funding.

The total amount cut is higher in Birmingham than any other local authority, although this might be expected as the council is also the largest in the country with the highest budget.

Dudley is reducing funding for voluntary and charitable bodies by pounds 125,000 by 2013-14 while Sandwell is cutting funding by pounds 2.49 million.

HAS your group been hit by the council's funding axe? We want to hear from you. email or call 0121 234 5430.


Under fire: Coun Sue Anderson says funding decisions have been made according to value for money, but MP Jack Dromey believes the council has not pushed for the city to receive its fair share of funding.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Aug 3, 2011
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