Voluntary groups must prove their worth to council

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VOLUNTARY groups that receive large grants from a council are set to face greater scrutiny.

Organisations that receive more than £20,000 from Gosport Borough Council will have to present what they have achieved and their plans to councillors from June.

Council bosses say it is needed as the cash is coming from the public purse.

Gosport Citizens’ Advice Bureau receives £91,890 each year, along with a grant of around £31,000.

Manager Anita Muff said she is confident the organisation can prove its worth.

It gives advice on debt and relationships and helps to prevent homelessness, among other services.

She said: ‘Should the council decide that it can’t fully support us then some or all of those services would be at risk.

‘We do make a difference out there and we do have people who are really grateful for our services.’

Ms Muff added she understands the council may need to save cash and has already tried to reduce expenditure.

That includes working with Gosport Voluntary Action, a group overseeing multiple projects, including mental health support groups and a befriender service.

It gets £63,110 and, as with Gosport CAB, its grant has been maintained this year.

David Miles, chief executive officer, said: ‘In terms of showing value for money I don’t think we’ve got any problems there. Simply, at the moment we have no other way of replacing that money.

‘One of the difficulties at the moment is that most of the major funders are inundated with requests for funding.’

Mr Miles added he is happy to present to councillors and that the organisation already produces an annual report.

LEADER SAYS GRANT MONEY IS SPENT WELL

THE leader of the council asking organisations to present their achievements and future plans to a board said he acknowledges their value.

Leader of the council, Cllr Mark Hook, said every £1 the council gives to the voluntary sector equates to around £7 of work done.

He said: ‘It’s important that we support the voluntary sector but at the same time understand what they’re producing. It’s sensible for any business to review their business activities and the voluntary sector is no different.

‘We’re not looking at reducing or indeed giving more. What we’re saying to them is look at your business plan to ensure the things you’re offering are the things the community needs and the things the council should be supporting. It’s important for the council and the public – because it’s at a public meeting – for them to understand all the good these community groups do for Gosport.’

Groups will present to the policy and organisation board, which Cllr Hook chairs.

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