Monday, 7 February 2011

Reading Council's Support for Voluntary Sector praised

The National Association of Voluntary and Community Associations (NAVCA) has praised the Lib Dem- Conservative Coalition Administration of  Reading Borough Council for its decision to increase funding to the voluntary sector in Reading, whilst some other local councils are cutting funding to community groups.

Kevin Curley, Chief Executive has written to the Leader of the Council, Andrew Cumpsty:
Mr Curley wrote: "The voluntary sector makes a vitally important contribution to the quality of life, especially for disadvantaged people in every part of England. This is especially true when economic conditions are harsh."

He said it had proved "all too easy" for some local authorities in England to cut voluntary sector funding.

Referring to the increase in funding levels for community groups in Reading, Mr Curley added: "Your decisions represent leadership of national significance."

NAVCA is the national voice of local support and development organisations in England. The organisation champions and strengthens voluntary and community action by supporting members in their work with over 160,000 charities and local groups.

To his credit the Conservative Leader of the Council consistently refers to the voluntary sector as the 'First Sector', rejecting 'Third Sector.' Actions speak louder than words however, and unlike some other councils we are putting money where our our mouth is on this important sector.

Our commitment to the community and voluntary sector in Reading was written into the local Coalition Agreement signed by the Liberal Democrat and Conservative Groups last May.
We will maintain the total grant funding to voluntary, community and neighbourhood groups at current overall levels, whilst re-evaluating how the funding is meeting the council’s objectives and services
In actual fact as an administration we have been able to go further than the Coalition Agreement originally stated - not just maintaining support for the voluntary sector but increasing the overall funding available.

We are also changing the process by which local groups can bid for funding - opening up the process to enable more groups to access funding, not just groups that have received funding from RBC in the past.

The new approach will mean an increased focus on value for money and delivering better outcomes. This will also help the Council target spending on the areas that can be of most benefit to residents.

 It will also be a more transparent process - something I actively campaigned for in opposition when a motion I tabled in 2009 led to a review of the way the Council funds community groups. This is important because this is public money and the public have a right to understand what the Council spends money on in their name.

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