From: "Reading Borough Council" <email@example.com>
Date: Jan 13, 2014 3:19 PM
Subject: Council Maintains Grant Support for Reading Voluntary and Community Sector
Council Maintains Grant Support for Reading Voluntary and Community Sector
Reading Borough Council Press Release
THE amount of money the Council gives to voluntary and community groups across Reading next year is set to be maintained – despite the Council facing substantial funding cuts for the fourth year in succession.
Reading Borough Council will again back Reading's voluntary sector in 2014/15 with a total of £3,092,904 in direct grants – maintaining last year's figure of £3,092,884.
Reading has a particularly strong and active voluntary sector and the proposed grant support for next year is in recognition of the significant benefits voluntary and community groups bring to communities across Reading, and in helping the Council to tackle key issues in the town.
The Council's proposed grants budget for 2014/15 has been maintained for a number of reasons, not least to support the important work voluntary sector groups do to help people in times of hardship. These groups have again reported a major increase in requests for support locally from changes arising from the Government's programme of welfare reform. Readifood, the town's food bank, is set to have their grant increased from £10,000 to £15,000 due the threefold increase in demand for emergency food parcels.
Reading Borough Council Leader Jo Lovelock said:
"We are extremely fortunate in Reading to have such an active and committed voluntary and community sector. These groups play a vital role in the life of the town, including in supporting vulnerable people.
"We heard recently at the Council's Tackling Poverty event about how ordinary people are struggling to make ends meet with wages being cut and the cost of living rising at the same time. It is at times of financial hardship like this that voluntary groups really come into their own. Despite the Council having its own funding cut for the fourth year in a row, we are determined in Reading to maintain the amount of money we give to these groups. This includes continuing to back groups that provide vital services like emergency food provision, and advice on welfare reform and debt advice.
"At a time when many other local authorities are choosing to cut back on voluntary sector funding, we in Reading are choosing to maintain it again which demonstrates this Council's on-going commitment to these vital voluntary groups. "
The proposed 2014/15 Grants Budget will go before to a meeting of the Council's Policy Committee on Monday 20th January for consideration.
The proposed budget includes a significant increase in the planned community grants and contingency fund, which has increased from £25,000 last year to £83,800. This is in recognition of the invaluable work voluntary groups carry out despite budgetary constraints and is designed to help smaller charities continue to provide services at a time when both they and their clients are dealing with economic uncertainty.
Other highlights of the Council's proposed voluntary sector grant package for 2014/15 include:
Christian Community Action – to enable them to provide outlets for recycled furniture and other goods that will in particular assist low income and vulnerable families to sustain their accommodation.
The Mustard Tree Foundation – following a successful pilot programme in 2013/14, the group has been offered an additional £5k for their project, which extends the traditional home befriending scheme by offering companionship to older people to help them access groups and activities in Southcote, Whitley and Caversham.
Reading Community Welfare Rights Unit – to support a case management service for vulnerable clients with additional support needs for advice services.
Reading and District Citizens Advice Bureau – to contribute to the cost of providing advice and information on people's rights in relation to legal, financial and other problems.
ReadiBus – to support them in providing accessible transport for disabled people.
Additionally, £74,000 has been set aside by the Council to fund community- based culture and sports activities; £83,000 to support short break activities for children with a disability and £100,000 for community neighbourhood capital funding, which in the past has been used by voluntary organisations to make improvements to community spaces including halls and playgrounds.
The full Policy Committee report detailing Reading Borough Council's proposed grant structure for voluntary and community groups for 2014/15 will be available from http://www.reading.gov.uk/meetings/. If approved at a Policy Committee on Monday January 20th, the funding package will also be subject to approval of the overall Reading Borough Council budget for 2014/15.ENDS
Notes for Editors:
Reading Borough Council Press Releases can be found online at http://www.reading.gov.uk/news/pressreleases/
Media Contact: Anna Fowler
Tel: 0118 937 3957