Dudley community grant money guaranteed despite financial crisis

Thursday, 22 February 2024 19:20

By Martyn Smith, Local Democracy Reporter @

Dudley councillors have guaranteed the freeze on community grant funding will end after the current budget is approved.

The surprise announcement was made at the Stourbridge area Your Home Your Forum meeting on February 21.

The funding was suspended while the council continues to seek savings in a bid to fight off having to declare itself effectively bankrupt due to a multi-million pound black hole in its finances.

The council’s current savings plans for the next three years include the removal of ‘discretionary grant funding per ward distributed via Community Forums’.

Conservative councillor Ian Kettle told the meeting: “There is a moratorium on hiring and money for forums is frozen until after the budget.

“The money will come back to us, it will be back.”

When asked whether that was guaranteed, Cllr Kettle responded “yes”.

The money is distributed to community causes by the local forums and the meeting heard it is vital for the future of one popular event. Stourbridge carnival organiser Dave Brownhill said: “We have secured some funding but not enough, when will it be unfrozen?

“Without that money there will not be a carnival.”

Conservative Cllr Dave Borley, said: “It will be released in June.”

Speaking after the meeting, Labour councillor Cat Eccles said: “I am surprised they have given those assurances given that we have not had the budget meeting yet.

“A lot of services will be in jeopardy, it is not going to be a pleasant time ahead.”

On February 26 full council will debate statutory recommendations from external auditors who say if more savings are not found the authority will be in grave danger of running out of cash.

Among the measures recommended by the auditor is a review to identify the minimum level of service the law requires the council to provide. In response council officers are carrying out a review of spending controls and the authority’s functions in line with the recommendations.

Full council will vote on the budget for 2024/25 on March 4.

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