St Albans charities face ‘funding uncertainty’ over grant changes, says Tory leader

Cllr Mary Maynard.

Cllr Mary Maynard. - Credit: Archant

Changes to the way charities are funded by St Albans district council have been condemned for creating further uncertainty in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

The council has abolished three year grants provided by the Community Partnerships Fund, meaning charities must now reapply every year to the council for grants.

Conservative group leader Cllr Mary Maynard said: “As someone who has helped run children’s charities for over 20 years, I am well aware of the difficulties they face in having reliable sources of funds over a long period.

“St Albans and district council has introduced major uncertainty to key local charities by abolishing the three year grants introduced by the previous Conservative administration.

“By doing this, they are increasing stress and uncertainty in the charities and impacting the lives of our most vulnerable residents. This is particularly harsh given the problems charities face during Covid.”

In response, council leader and Lib Dem Cllr Chris White said: “Upon review and feedback from grants recipients the fund was seen to have a lack of transparency and flexibility. It was noted in the review that the current three-year funding did not allow some groups to be responsive in their delivery and there were examples of funded projects becoming out of date after a year. This produced more work for groups in terms of monitoring and renegotiation of desired outcomes.”

He added: “Two of the groups this grants previously funded have been moved to strategic funding which remains a three-year grant – St Albans Women’s Refuge and Hightown Mother and Baby.

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“The remaining organisations funded previously have all been consulted and many provided feedback as part of the review. This includes St Albans District Foodbank, Living Room and Homestart who all had sight of the proposed structure and processes.

“They will be able to apply for the new Community Revenue Grant, a new grant that will fund general running costs of organisations which provide services in the district which are considered of value.

“Although it is one-year funding, it can be renewed through a simple re-application process on evidence of meeting outcomes and providing monitoring. This allows for greater flexibility as groups can amend their delivery each year according to current needs and there is opportunity to apply for more or less than the previous year which gives better value for money.”