Cash for some, cuts for others as council grant payments are protected

CASH BOOST Off the Record will be getting more grant money. From left, Cherkera Bates, client of Off The Record, Michell McKay, service delivery officer, Sandra Rowland, voluntary counsellor, Vicky Sawyer, outreach worker, Gary Mathew, student social work placement, John Simmonds, chairman and Tina Randall, admin officer.  Picture: Sarah Standing (112008-7783)

CASH BOOST Off the Record will be getting more grant money. From left, Cherkera Bates, client of Off The Record, Michell McKay, service delivery officer, Sandra Rowland, voluntary counsellor, Vicky Sawyer, outreach worker, Gary Mathew, student social work placement, John Simmonds, chairman and Tina Randall, admin officer. Picture: Sarah Standing (112008-7783)

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VOLUNTARY groups across Havant have breathed a sigh of relief after it was revealed the borough council is not going to cut its grants budget.

In a bid to make savings, Havant Borough Council launched a major review of cash it gives to voluntary groups.

Some organisations were warned funding may be reduced or even cut.

But the council’s scrutiny panel has decided to stick with its £300,300 budget – a decision expected to be ratified by the full council next week.

It will, however, cut the amount of money it hands out to two groups – and give it to others.

One of those to benefit from an increase in cash is young people’s counselling service, Off The Record.

Its grant has gone up from £5,500 to £7,000.

Scrutiny panel member Cllr Yvonne Weeks said: ‘We felt some organisations do such worthwhile things for the community they deserved more.

‘For example, if we did not have Off The Record, the cost of helping these young people to the council, the NHS and ultimately the taxpayer would be very high.

‘The organisation does fantastic work with dozens of volunteers who put themselves through training to help an astonishing number of young people.’

Those missing out on cash include Havant Council of Community Services (HCCS) which had its grant cut by £11,700 to £61,600.

And the Southleigh Youth Recreation and Community Hall had its £1,200 grant axed completely.

Sue Spencer, chief executive of HCCS – which supports voluntary groups across the borough –said: ‘I take the view that when times are tough we’re all in it together.

‘I would have liked to have kept my grant as it was but I can accept that the organisations that are going to benefit from my loss are worthwhile.

‘They are small organisations doing great work and I can’t knock that. We are able to diversify and do things differently.

‘If you’re a very small organisation sometimes there’s not much you can do to economise.

‘Larger organisations have a better ability to do that.’

Virginia Wilson-Smith, from the Southleigh community hall, said they had been expecting the cuts for some time and had planned for them.

Council officers have recommended the cabinet agrees the changes at its next meeting on February 8 at the Public Service Plaza.

CASH GRANTS

The council’s scrutiny panel agreed these annual grants.

· Citizens Advice Bureau – stays at £141,200

· Off the Record - increases from £5,500 to £7,000

· Relate (relationship counselling) - increases from £1,500 to £3,000

· Victim Support - increases from £1,00 to £3,000

· Rape Crisis - increases from £1,000 to £3,000

· Havant Council of Community Service - funding is cut from £73,300 to £61,600

· The Spring Arts Centre - stays at £42,400

· Making Space (craft skills centre) - stays at £18,000

· Leigh Park Community Centre - stays at £8,600

· Acorn Community Centre - increases from £2,100 to £4,000

· Southleigh Youth Recreation and Community Hall - scrapped £1,200 grant altogether

· Havant Womens Aid - stays at £5,500

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