While the Conservative-led Council puts out a press release boasting about increased funds for the voluntary sector, many voluntary and community groups in Reading are now learning about substantial cuts to their funding that will hit them in the coming year and in some cases that their funding is disappearing altogether.|
Groups affected include a whole raft of sports clubs and environmental groups that now only have the opportunity to bid for funding from a smaller pot, Coley Park Community Association, Reading Carnival, the Welfare Rights Unit which advises people in financial difficulties and groups offering support for the elderly and disabled and to their carers.
Several charities helping Homeless people are affected, such as Launchpad and Ability Housing Association, and this at a time when Housing Benefit is being severely cut. A significant number of other charities helping the homeless get funding for only six months next year: after then they can only bid for “tender opportunities” as yet unspecified or shut up shop.
In education funding has been withdrawn from ABC To Read , which helps children who have difficulty in reading, and from the many groups providing mother-tongue teaching to children from ethnic minorities. Both these cuts will, affect the progress of all children in our schools.
No voluntary groups in the arts and sport sector will receive any core funding – threatening the well-loved Progress Theatre with closure , as well as numerous sports clubs, including Reading Cygnets Swimming Club , which helps people with learning disabilities.
Reading Council for Racial Equality, RCRE, faces closure at the same time that the Con-Dem administration is proposing to withdraw support for the well-attended council forum for consultation with minority ethnic groups. This when Cllrs Cumpsty and Bayes say they “strongly believe” that Reading’s diversity “is something to take pride in and be celebrated” and that they “will continue to work for an inclusive Reading”.
Cllr. Tickner says: “Groups that have served this community for years are being cut adrift, and there is no process of appeal. Many others have no confidence they will still be in business in six months’ time, some Reading groups will be faced with competition from big national charities and commercial operations. The certainty, stability and confidence that Labour always tried to offer the voluntary sector has been replaced by short-sighted, politically-inspired blows from a Conservative-led Council that cares only for smoke and mirrors. Labour will of course do its best to stand up for a voluntary sector that has been frankly betrayed.”