Over 500 charities across the Midlands are facing budget cuts as local authorities reduce their funding – or in some cases completely withdraw it – according to new research published today (Tuesday) by the union backed anti-cuts campaign website False Economy.
The research, based on Freedom of Information responses from local councils across the region, shows that one year on from the launch of the Big Society, many charities and voluntary groups are facing deep funding cuts.
Birmingham City Council has cut funding to 191 charities – the largest number in the country. In March, the ConDem coalition voted to cut £212million from the budget for 2011/12, and these cuts have fallen on charities and advisory organisations as well as council services.
All charities or voluntary groups receiving a funding cut of at least five per cent are listed in the research, although most of the cuts are far deeper than this and many groups have had their funding cancelled completely.
The list of charities facing funding cuts in the Midlands includes:
100 children’s and young people-related charities
47 elderly-related charities
40 arts charities
37 disability charities
33 adult care charities
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:
These deep cuts to voluntary groups across the Midlands show that government claims that charities can replace direct services currently provided by central or local government are false. It sounds great, but in practice, the Big Society is looking more and more like a big con.
False Economy’s campaign director Clifford Singer said:
These cuts go deep into the voluntary and community sectors. These are not just ‘nice to have’ groups but organisations providing vital services for older people trying to maintain independent lives, vulnerable children and abused women. And with so many of the cuts simply resulting in further pressure on the NHS or other statutory services, they are truly a false economy.
“Ministers talk up localism and say services will be better shaped locally, but the huge front-loaded cuts to councils mean that local decision-making simply gives councils the choice of which vulnerable people they should make suffer for an economic crisis they did nothing to cause.
I will be taking a close look at the data to find out what is happenng in Birmingham, so that we can organise and fight against these cuts. We can have successes – advisory organisations took the council to court recently, and won a judgement that restored their funding temporarily, as the council had not consulted properly. A campaign involving Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts saw interim funding being granted to the Cotteridge Day Centre. These are only temporary victories, but they delay the effect of cuts and give us further time to stop them entirely. Labour councillors voted against the cuts, along with Respect, and in 2012, Labour may gain control of the council again. Perhaps if they do, they will follow through their vote against the budget and restore funding to these groups under threat.
If you are being affected by one of these cuts, please let us know – comment here or add a testimony to the False Economy website. If you want to fight these cuts, we want to help you. Come along to our next planning meeting on 22nd August, or email us at BirminghamAgainstTheCuts@gmail.com to get more involved.
Read about the national situation on False Economy’s Blog