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Cash for small black charities slashed

MP’s have joined volunteering champions to condemn the government’s decision to slash a “campaigning grant” fund used by Black groups to lobby for change.

Charities are outraged after ministers revealed they will axe support for a range of local equalities advocates. It is believed that 32 groups nationwide are affected, many of which help BME and refugee communities.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), which is campaigning against the changes, received a boost this week when 14 MPs signed a Commons motion opposing the government.

Umbrella group NCVO is furious that Whitehall’s Office of the Third Sector has pulled £750,000 of funding from small charities despite previously agreeing to support them.

The money was part of the government’s Campaigning Research Programme. It is understood ministers have “diverted” the cash to top up a separate scheme for larger organisations.

Stuart Etherington, NCVO chief executive, said: “I am appalled at the decision to withdraw this funding. Charities play a critical role in campaigning and advocating for change. Without them, the voices of marginalised people can often go unheard.

“Making this decision at such a late stage has resulted in a complete waste of public funds and time for all involved.”

Lib Dem charities spokesperson Jenny Willott MP demanded the cash be reinstated. “This is a major blow to many small charities, but especially those that work closely with ethnic and minority communities.

“These charities are dedicated to helping some of the most vulnerable and hard to reach groups in society. They had been promised the money and made plans based on those promises, so this decision has really left them in a terrible situation.

“What is so appalling is the manner in which this has been done, with no warning or consultation. The Government should reinstate these funds immediately.”

Willott put down an Early Day Motion in the Commons this week, which has so far been signed by 12 of her Lib Dem colleagues plus the Labour MPs Alan Simpson and Jeremy Corbyn.

A government spokesman said: ““This decision was taken due to the pressing need to support the sector through the recession. It was a difficult decision but in the current circumstances the Minister believes it is right that we channel money into supporting organisations providing vital recession services to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in society.

“£750,000 represents hardship grants for up to 15 organisations struggling through the recession. Government remains committed to enabling the independent voice of the sector, even where it challenges Government policy.”

You can join a Twitter campaign to have the money reinstated. The hashtag is #otscampaign.

A list of the charities affected:

  • BME Community Champions Oxfordshire
  • BME Community Services
  • Bolton Solidarity Community Association
  • Bristol Somali Resource Centre
  • CAST Trust
  • Church Action on Poverty NE
  • Crosby Community Association
  • Easington Lane Community Access Point
  • Gender and Participation Unit (GAP Unit)
  • Gendershift
  • Greenbank Tenants and Residents
  • Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust
  • Houghton Racecourse Community Access Point
  • Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation
  • JH Foundations
  • Leeds GATE
  • London Detainee Support Group (LDSG)
  • Manchester Disabled People’s Action Group
  • Merton Unity Network
  • Mexborough Community Partnership
  • North Hampshire Caribbean and African Network
  • OBJECT
  • Our Vision Our Future
  • One Community Development Trust
  • People in Action (Leeds)
  • PLIAS Resettlement
  • Press for Change
  • Reading Refugee Support Group
  • South Bank Tomorrow
  • Street Talk
  • Surrey and Gypsy Travellers Forum “Three Villages” (a group of residents from three villages in Sussex working through local rural forum)

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