Ipswich community grants restored – and three-year deals offered

Councillor Sophie Meudec (left) presents a cheque to Headway Suffolk’s Helen Fairweather. With them

Councillor Sophie Meudec (left) presents a cheque to Headway Suffolks Helen Fairweather. With them is the Councils Bereavement & Parks Manager Steve Kemp - Credit: Archant

Fears that some community grants from Ipswich Borough could be cut in the next financial year have been eased after the borough was allowed to increase its council tax by more than 2%.

And groups that get annual support from the council are likely to be given three year deals if the borough’s executive backs a change in the way grants are awarded next week.

The council had been looking to cut back its community grants by about £15,000 a year – but they will now be reinstated.

But it is the three-year deals that could be most important, said portfolio holder for communities Sophie Meudec.

She said: “That gives groups the certainty that the grants will be coming in for three years and they don’t have to reapply every year.

“And if they can show other bodies that the borough is giving them a three year grant, it is easier for them to secure grants from other sources as well so it works well on several different levels.”

Some organisations already have three-year deals from the borough but this will mean similar deals will be offered to others, including some smaller groups.

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The largest single grant is to the Ipswich Citizens’ Advice Bureau which gets £95,000 a year from the borough council.

The Ipswich Housing Action Group’s Chapman Centre in Black Horse Lane which offers help and support to homeless people gets a £9,100 to pay its rent – and a separate £40,000 grant to help cover the centre’s running costs.

Other groups supported include the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE), the Ipswich Disabled Advice Bureau and FIND (Families In NeeD) which runs the town’s food bank.

The total amount the council is aiming to offer community groups grants totalling £356,640 for the 2018/19 financial year. The exact sum for future years is not known because while all groups will have three-year deals they do not all start in the same year.

Ms Meudec said this still had to be agreed by the borough council’s executive at its meeting on Tuesday – but the decision does not need to be ratified by full council later this month.

The executive committee will also discuss the council’s proposed total budget for the next financial year – but that will have to be formally approved at a full meeting of the authority on February 21.