LITTLEHAMPTON homeless charity HOMElink claims it has missed out on potential funding of more than £300,000 because Arun District Council refused to support the bids.
The charity, which is backed by the Littlehampton Churches Together organisation, and has the Duchess of Norfolk as its patron, asked the council to write letters of support for two funding bids of £160,000 and £150,000 and a further one for about £5,000.
However, Arun refused to give its backing, pointing to ‘significant debts’ the charity had built up when the authority was providing a free payroll service for HOMElink staff, and which still remained to be cleared.
Kevin Finnon, operations director for HOMElink, said Arun told his organisation it was not repaying the debt, thought to be around £40,000, quickly enough.
He had been led to believe the council was satisfied with new repayment arrangements, but then heard Arun was not supporting the funding bids because of the debt.
“We appreciate there is public money involved here, and fully accept we have to pay it back, but it is a lot of money for a small charity like ours.”
The larger bid, for £160,000, was to convert a disused commercial property near Littlehampton town centre as accommodation for HOMElink to support vulnerable and homeless people.
Another application, for £150,000, would have enabled the charity to develop its office base in The Arcade to give much better support to rough sleepers and move them quickly into accommodation.
This week the charity had to lose three members of staff, said Kevin, as a result of its continuing financial problems.
A spokeswoman said Arun had supported Homelink since 2001, through providing free payroll services to the charity’s staff.
Arun chief executive Nigel Lynn said: “It is unfortunate that the charity ran into financial difficulties, which resulted in them running up significant debts with the council and putting the council in a difficult position in terms of its continuing support for the charity.
“The council is, therefore, unable to provide positive references when it is owed substantial sums of taxpayer money.”