Council accused of ‘shooting groups in the foot’ over charity funding swap

Len Medlock Centre, Boston.
Len Medlock Centre, Boston.

Moving £20,000 of council funding from one charity to another has been met with dire warnings about the negative impact the move could have on the borough.

Boston Borough Council has proposed reducing funding for Lincolnshire CVS and moving the money to the town’s Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) in its latest budget, which is due to be approved on Monday.

The decision was made as the CAB is anticipating a significant increase in demand for its services – but the CVS said the reduction will impact widely, and will affect the entire community.

Tim Barker, CVS chair of trustees, said: “Though the work of CVS is not as immediately obvious, it is very much work that is providing support for organisations across Boston.

“It really is providing the glue which keeps these community organisations together and provides community cohesion.

“Through these groups we help some of the most vulnerable people in the community and reduce the demand on public services. The council could be shooting other public sector organisations in the foot.”

CVS funding has been reduced by around 40 per cent in recent years, Mr Barker said. Previously, the impact was absorbed by the charity’s reserves, but on this occasion he said an impact on services was ‘inevitable’.

But Stuart Hellon, chief officer at Boston CAB, said plainly that if the charity did not get this £20,000, services would be cut.

He added: “It would mean making somebody redundant or reducing hours – it’s as simple as that, We believe the change to welfare benefits is going to have a big impact on people, and we are one of the places they are turning to. We want to keep as much advice available as we can for the people of Boston.”

He predicted that around eight per cent of the population of Boston had used CAB services.

Coun Mike Gilbert, the council’s portfolio holder for communities, said the authority considered there was more need at the CAB, adding: “The work of the CVS in Boston borough is important, with skilled and professional staff delivering a range of community-related services, including assisting with the impact of migration. However, decisions had to be made in the context of the impact of the Welfare Benefits changes and the best fit for the borough at this time was to increase funding to the CAB.”