Tories branded ‘scrooges’ over plans to halve funding for West Sussex community projects

West Sussex County Council SUS-160531-124255001
West Sussex County Council SUS-160531-124255001

West Sussex County Council have been branded ‘scrooges’ over plans to slash its community initiative funding (CIF) budget.

CIF is allocated by County Local Committees (CLCs) to support community projects across the county.

Last year the authority combined the Members’ Big Society Fund, CIF and the Small Grants Funding {https://www.wscountytimes.co.uk/news/politics/council-s-grant-funding-to-be-cut-by-half-1-8301901|at the same time as halving the total budget and supporting the single fund by an online crowdfunding platform|at the same time as halving the total budget and supporting the single fund by an online crowdfunding platform.

Now the council is proposing to cut CIF’s budget from £280,000 in 2018/19 to £140,000 in 2019/20.

Debbie Kennard, cabinet member for safer, stronger communities, is set to make a final decision in January.

In a letter to all councillors this week, she described how more than £179,000 has been pledged from other sources on the West Sussex Crowd platform since it went live in May.

She also pointed out how the CIF budget had been underspent in the last two years and was currently under budget in this financial year too.

Ms Kennard added: “These spending patterns combined with the extra funding being generated through the West Sussex Crowd, suggests that the proposed reduction would not have a significant impact on our ability to support community projects across West Sussex.”

Labour county councillor Michael Jones branded the Tory’s council leadership ‘scrooges’.

He said: “With exquisite timing, barely a week before Christmas the West Sussex Tory leadership announce proposals to halve the grant money available for local voluntary societies and community groups from the county council.

“That’s £140,000 that won’t be going to worthy causes next year.”

A spokesman for the county council said: “The Community Initiative Fund is usually underspent every year and since the council started allocating funding through the West Sussex Crowd, more £179,000 has been pledged to local projects by other funders which means communities are becoming less reliant on CIF.

“In light of the significant financial challenges facing the county council, we have proposed in the Forward Plan reducing the fund from £280,000 to £140,000. A decision will be taken on this in January.”