Westminster council cuts �1million from voluntary sector

Adult and children’s services to see 25 per cent reduction over next two years

MORE than �1million is to be cut from voluntary sector budgets in Westminster over the next two years.

The council is set to slash �630,000 of grants from the adult and community services budget and �425,000 from the children’s services budget – a total reduction of up to 25 per cent.

Arts and culture will see a reduction of �169,337, which equates to 34 per cent of its current budget, while older people will receive �94,952 less (25 per cent) and adult learning �48,169 (75 per cent). The physical disabilities budget will be cut by 90 per cent.

Westminster Labour group leader, Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, said: “Voluntary groups are the beating heart of the local community but now Westminster’s real Big Society has had over �1million of support axed.

“How can the Conservatives expect us to believe that their Big Society slogans are anything more than hot air when the council is cutting its support to voluntary groups by 25%.

“Support for voluntary groups helping older people, the vulnerable, the arts and children is all being cut back massively at the same time as the Conservatives say they want to encourage volunteers.”

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Cllr Steve Summers, cabinet member for communities, said: “We remain committed to working with voluntary and community groups in Westminster and recognise the vital role they can play in delivering services.

“However, in this new climate of austerity and government cuts we have had to make some tough decisions across all council departments, including funding for the voluntary sector, and we can’t do everything that we have done previously.

“We have publicly pledged to reduce waste and cut back office costs wherever possible in order to prioritise and protect the most vulnerable and our new commissioning approach within the sector will help to ensure our reduced resources are best used to benefit those in most need.”