Council funding for Harrow charity projects has been halved since 2005 at a time when their services are needed more than ever.

Information obtained by getwestlondon shows that total payments from Harrow Council to charities which help the most vulnerable have fallen from more than £1.2million in 2005, to under £600,000 in each of the past three years.           

The size of the pot available for grants is decided by the council administration and then charities are invited to bid for the cash and are evaluated against objective criteria. Councillors thereafter agree the thresholds for qualification for a slice of the fund and the sums awarded to applicants.

Ann Groves, chairwoman of Harrow Association for Disabled People, said: "Those in the voluntary sector are being asked to do more and more with less and less.

"The demand for our services has dramatically increased because of reforms to the benefit system which effects everyone, but especially disabled people.

"This is making life much more difficult for our volunteers and staff and the pressure on them is considerable.

"We have had a significant cut in funding but we also recognise that local authorities are having significant cuts in their funding also."

Source: Harrow Council

 

The fear for charities is that things will only get worse, with the Local Government Association indicating in a report that there will be a likely annual funding gap of £16.5billion by the financial year 2019/20.

One charity contacted by getwestlondon during this investigation said that members are afraid of speaking out against the cuts in fear of negatively influencing any future funding opportunities.

Pamela Fitzpatrick, director of Harrow Law Centre, said: "Across the UK, charities do a huge amount of vital work in partnership with local government support the most vulnerable in our communities.

"Virtually every week we hear of another charity being forced to close its doors due to cuts in funding.

"However, the cause of the problem is not unique to Harrow but instead lies with the significant cuts in funding that have been imposed on local authorities by government since 2011."

Harrow Council told getwestlondon that what is not included in the figures we have obtained is the commissioning of charities for projects such as Harrow Citizen's Advice Bureau, who were paid £90,000 to run a benefits drop in centre during welfare reform.

Marianne Locke, Harrow Council's divisional director for community and culture, said: “Like councils everywhere we have had to make unprecedented savings, but we are continuing to support the voluntary and charitable sector through different practical methods.

“A further form of direct help by Harrow Council is offering charities the use of council facilities, for example the community resource centre in Northolt Road – where they can use IT and meeting rooms for a fraction of the cost of the private sector.”

Council officers are also advising charities on how they can apply for other sources of funding outside the council.