From April 2014, under current Boston Borough Council budget proposals, 65 or more charities and voluntary organisations will lose 25 per cent of their Discretionary Rate Relief for the first time in Boston’s history.
This will save the council about £11,500 pa but will actually cost our voluntary bodies about £27,000 pa, (because the council keeps 40 per cent of business rates collected; the rest goes mainly to central government).
We appreciate that the council is having to economise but so are the charities and other voluntary bodies on which this decision will impact, which already run on a shoestring and much goodwill and community spirit.
Our very real concern is that the damage this will inflict on hard-pressed and much-valued community-based organisations will be out of all proportion to the council’s saving.
The proposal, if agreed, will have a serious impact on bodies which are vitally important to the social and economic well-being of the district, and are greatly appreciated by council tax payers and local communities in Boston’s most deprived wards.
We are told that DRR must take the hit because it is one of the last areas of council expenditure to be cut.
We have sympathy with the staff at the council for the challenges they face. But DRR is designed to assist charities and other voluntary bodies precisely because they are financially vulnerable.
The cost of DRR to the council is already at an all-time low of £46,214 this year.
Broadly speaking the average cost of relief over the previous five years, adjusted for inflation, was about £60,200, so the cost of DRR has already gone down by 23 per cent.
And now the council is proposing to make a further 25 per cent cut.
On behalf of the charities and other voluntary bodies we represent, we must protest this.
We have received assurances that there would be no further cuts in 2015-6, which is a great relief and must be applauded. But we appeal to you, please re-consider the effect this proposal on DRR will have on the social fabric of the borough and the communities you serve.
We will be the first to congratulate you if you do.
Frank Cammack (chairman, Boston and District Sports Forum)
David Fannin (acting CEO, Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Service)