Funds cut to good causes

COMMUNITY groups hoping to help those struggling due to recession have received a major body blow after it today emerged their funding is to be slashed.

Graham Dines

COMMUNITY groups hoping to help those struggling due to recession have received a major body blow after it today emerged their founding is to be slashed.

Six organisations have been warned their grants will be cut completely from April, three have had their money reduced, while 21 others have had their cash frozen - the equivalent to a cut when inflation is taken into account.

In total, �30,000 is being axed from grants to good causes in a bid to help keep the annual council tax increase down to an acceptable level.

The Ipswich Community Playbus grant of �5,000 will end, the town's Polish Club will no longer receive its �2,000, and four other organisations - the Inside Out Group, IP1 Magazine, community radio, and Ipswich and district widows - will have their funding withdrawn.

Ipswich Caribbean Association is set to lose �5,000 and Suffolk Refugee Support Forum �4,000.

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The council's opposition Labour group has vowed to try to shame the council into not carrying out the cuts.

Group leader David Ellesmere said: “Many of these groups are on the frontline, helping people deal with the recession.

“The council should be offering them increased support, not cutting the ground from underneath their feet.”

Communities portfolio holder Nadia Cenci insisted the budget cut was actually �5,000 - the remaining �25,000 was the non-renewal of a one-off extra grant given by the council in the current financial year to help organisations who had been in difficulties.

Mrs Cenci said the council was increasing its grant to the Citizens' Advice Bureau, one of the main groups to help those facing redundancy or financial difficulties.

But she added: “Voluntary groups cannot be immune from the credit crunch. We don't have an infinite budget.

“We have been able to direct some groups to other types of council funding if they are looking for help with capital costs such as fitting out buildings.”

She said some organisations which had been receiving annual grants had to start standing on their own feet.

“Ipswich Caribbean Association has had cash from us over a number of years and it is time for it to show that it's sustainable.”

But ICA treasurer Albert Grant said: “We raise a lot of the money we need by our own efforts but there is a shortfall and the council cash is vital. A recession which is causing misery and uncertainty for a number of Ipswich residents is not the time to wield the axe on voluntary groups. It is callous and unthinking.”

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