Plans to slash West Sussex community fund by a third as it celebrates anniversary

Julie Budge from My Sister's House showing WSCC Leader Louise Goldsmith the boutique (photo submitted). SUS-160906-111122001
Julie Budge from My Sister's House showing WSCC Leader Louise Goldsmith the boutique (photo submitted). SUS-160906-111122001

West Sussex County Council is celebrating ten years of its Community Initiative Fund, just as it unveils plans to slash its budget by a third.

In the last decade the county council’s CIF has awarded more than £3.2 million to approximately 2,000 community groups, small charities and organisations, and its impact is being celebrated in the run-up to Small Charity Week, which starts of Monday June 13.

But the cabinet member for corporate relations is being asked to approve a £378,000 reduction to the democratic services budget, and this could include a £142,000 cut to the CIF budget in 2017/18.

This would represent a reduction from £6,000 to £4,000 per county councillor per year.

The proposals are listed in the county council’s latest forward plan of key decisions, and follows a review by an executive task and finish group and consultation with members.

The council’s CIF anniversary coincides with its support for this year’s Small Charity Week – an awareness campaign offering advice to charities with an annual income of under £1 million.

Latest figures from the Charity Commission show that there are currently 2,623 registered small charities in the county.

Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council said: “Small charities continue to serve our communities on a budget and cascade crucial national research, yet their work doesn’t always receive the recognition it deserves. Many, many people rely on the support and help of small charities.”

In 2015/16, the council awarded its third highest CIF sum total of £383,036.31, a figure more than double the £163,229.41 donated countywide in the fund’s first year.

Worthing-based Asphaleia Action provide a training centre for vulnerable young people and used its £1,000 grant to purchase two iPad Air 2s and a DSLR camera to assist with classroom learning.

Hayley Roffey, Asphaleia’s development manager, said: “We had been thinking of ways to bring technology to young people who wouldn’t necessarily be able to access it themselves.”

Group B Strep Support, which has headquarters in Haywards Heath, invested its £2,500 grant on new equipment for the benefit of the support centre’s staff. This included two computers with accompanying office desks, chairs and a printer.

Chief executive Jane Plumb said: “The CIF funding has enabled us to expand by taking on four additional volunteers. In return for helping the charity meet its aims, we have helped our volunteers to ultimately work in other environments.”

Community interest company My Sister’s House, based in Bognor Regis, was awarded £2,395.

Founder Julie Budge said: “CIF funding has allowed us to purchase industrial sewing machines for volunteers and apprentices to run our ‘upcycled’ clothing enterprise.”

For more information on how to apply for a CIF grant or to see videos with the three charities mentioned above visit the council’s website.

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