Dudley Council proposes £8.5 million cuts from community groups

Dudley Voluntary Sector have launched a campaign with the hashtag #KeepDudleyBostin

A controversial proposal from councillors to make cuts to voluntary group budgets could affect up to 45,000 residents.

In the research, commissioned by Dudley Voluntary Sector Network, almost a third of the borough's 800 voluntary and community groups expect to cut services to the people they serve over the next three years. Job losses are also predicted, with just over a quarter of groups fearing they will make redundancies across the 1,000 people employed within the sector by 2019. 20% of groups also expect to close buildings in the same period.  

Voluntary and community groups across Dudley borough have come together under the Dudley Voluntary Sector Network to make an 11th hour plea to Dudley Council to think again and spare the cuts launching a campaign with the hashtag #KeepDudleyBostin.

Andy Gray, Dudley Voluntary Sector Network spokesperson, said: "We understand the very difficult financial issues the Council is facing. But we do want to send a clear and constructive message to Dudley Council that general cuts, without thought to the voluntary and community sector, will have a potentially devastating impact on many people's lives.

"Some of the most vulnerable people in Dudley rely on services from DVSN members, who themselves are already facing reduced funds from other sources and spiralling costs. For every £1 of Dudley Council funding, voluntary & community groups can almost more than double this from other funders.

"This is done through clever financial planning and by bringing in other sources of funding such as the lottery and elsewhere. It is the hidden domino effect that adds so much value to the Borough."

At present, more than £7 million of funding a year is granted by Dudley Council to voluntary and community groups. However, proposed cuts to voluntary and community sector support from Dudley Council spread over the next three years could top £8.5 million.

Plans have revealed that £1.5 million could be cut in 2016/17 with £3.5 million the following year and a further £3.5 million in 2018/19. 

DVSN said it was important to stress that changes to how voluntary & community groups operate are well under way in many areas.

Mr Gray added: "More cuts on this scale will seriously impact on our ability to support the council and health services as well as the elderly, young and the vulnerable that the sector supports. We want to highlight the full picture to the cabinet and councillors who must make some difficult decisions.

"We want service users and residents also to make representations. It's not too late to speak to your councillor and the decision makers. The voluntary and community sector has proved itself able to create new services to help the people of Dudley in different ways that would attract external funding and investment.  

"We feel that much more is possible and with the Council and others investing in the sector this could limit some of the negative impact of funding cuts and will also save the council money in other ways by preventing increasing demand on health and social care budgets. We're asking the Council to work with us on those opportunities and to help us all transition to new ways of working.

"This will help ensure there is a vibrant voluntary and community sector in Dudley to keep the principle, ethos and implementation of the Community Council alive and kicking."

A decision on the 2016/17 funding is expected by Dudley Council's cabinet on February 25th and endorsed by Full Council on February 29th.

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