Cuts helpline to support charities facing budget axe

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A HELPLINE has been launched to help voluntary groups work out how to react to cuts.

Charities and other community service providers have been hit by government cuts to Portsmouth City Council’s budget, and direct cuts to government grants.

And Community First, the city’s information and support service for the voluntary sector, has launched an advice line to help groups work out what to do next.

The helpline’s manager Mik Norman said: ‘It’s not about us saying the cuts shouldn’t happen. We understand the council has been hit by government cuts, and direct funding from central government and the NHS will be cut. But it means groups across the city face either definite staff and service cuts, or at least a period in which they have to readjust while they await funding announcements.’

Last year, Portsmouth City Council spent £5m on the voluntary sector, including groups providing front-line care to young people and those with learning difficulties.

But this year, faced with a £15m budget cut, it announced it would reduce that spending by 10 per cent.

And other funding sources, such as direct government grants, NHS spending and community project funds, are also expected to be cut.

Mr Norman said: ‘In a lot of cases, the cuts have come from the fact that funding from government, through the council, was coming to an end anyway. But because cuts are hitting every part of the budget, where councils would in better times have continued the funding from their own budgets, now they just can’t.’

Age UK and Motiv8 are just two charitable groups facing up to considerations of reducing services.

The elderly peoples’ charity may have to cut home help and day care services, while Motiv8 fears cuts will impact on its work helping young people stay out of legal trouble.

Mr Norman said: ‘We have a list of charitable groups we know are looking at what they must do next. We are offering advice on how to restructure, if staff changes are needed, how to prioritise services, if that will be necessary, and also on possible new sources of funding. We are working hard on those, as there is so little money available at the moment. But we can help, and we will either do so ourselves, or put groups in touch with others who can offer support and advice.’

The helpline is contactable from 9.30am-12.30pm Monday-Friday, on 0808 168 1381, or at: