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‘Vital services’ axed as local authorities cut charity cash

04 August 2011

by Ed Thornton

CHURCH community projects are facing cuts in funding for the next year, as local authorities reduce their budgets, research published this week suggests.

False Economy, a group that cam­paigns against spending cuts, gained hundreds of responses from local councils to freedom-of-information requests; the responses suggest that more than 2000 charities and com­munity groups would have their grants from councils reduced or cut completely in 2011-12.

The list of projects that, False Economy says, would have their funding cut includes services run by Christian groups and churches. For example, cuts to the Working Neighbourhoods Fund mean that the Church Leaders’ Forum in Bolton, which supports the council’s work in community cohesion, will have its funding reduced by £8000 in 2011-12. Blackburn Churches Action, which received £22,550 in funding in 2010-11, will receive nothing in 2011-12.

Two other Christian projects that will also have their grants removed completely in 2011-12 are Worth Unlimited, a youth-work agency in Birmingham, which received more than £47,119 in 2010-11, and Nene Valley Christian Family Refuge, in Northamptonshire, which was given £20,400 to help survivors of domestic violence.

Clifford Singer, campaign director of False Economy, said: “These cuts go deep into the volun­tary and community sectors. These are not just ‘nice-to-have’ groups, but organisations providing vital services for older people trying to maintain independent lives; vulner­able children; and abused women.”

Earlier this year, the Government’s Big Society agenda came under attack from Churches and charities, amid warnings that spending cuts were harming the voluntary sector (News, 11 February). The chief executive of Daylight Christian Prison Trust, the Revd Dr John Scott, said that the Big Society needed “to be backed by funding to help charities make the most of their volun­teers”.

The Church Army announced last week that it would pay its staff in London the Living Wage of £8.30 an hour. Its chief executive, Mark Russell, told the Evening Standard: “We were paying what was then the going rate for housekeeping staff in the London area — around the £6 mark. You have to empower people out of poverty, and I realised we weren’t allowing our staff to do that.”

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