THOUSANDS of pounds could be made available again to charities and community groups after a decision to claw it back into the council’s budget was branded appalling.
Almost £40,000 from the pot set aside for community grants was not allocated by Redditch Borough Council and the executive committee decided last month to put the unused cash into the authority’s savings – or balances – to support the authority’s overall budget, rather than re-offering the money to the voluntary sector.
Members of the council’s overview and scrutiny commitee have now recommended the move to be reversed as part of the budget setting process at Full Council on Monday (February 23).
Coun Carole Gandy attacked the decision saying it was not feasible to argue it was too difficult to set up another round of bids as the council was having to do that for the £75,000 which should have gone to the Redditch branch of CAB, which shut its doors earlier this month.
“I have to say I’m appalled to think because we have put together forms that people can’t understand, we have had fewer organisations bid and so therefore we have had £40,000 left over which is a significant percentage of the overall budget when you take out the big bids, without any thought of bringing it back to council or anywhere to discuss whether we think that’s a good idea.” she said.
“That means this year this council has cut the grants to the voluntary sector.”
Coun David Bush – who is also the chair of the grants panel – said it was ‘disgusting’ no one had consulted him about the decision.
“We all talked about how we could go out for another round. It is a weak excuse to talk about the cost and hassle to do it when officers were ready and instructed to do so.” he said.
“If this continues there will be pressure on the grants panel to hand money out in the first round to anybody before the council snatches it back.”
Coun Andy Fry said it was ‘wrong’ if the paperwork required to submit a bid was preventing organisations from applying but
Coun Pat Witherspoon said the forms had been rewritten to make them simpler and users who were consulted had no problem with them.