Monday, 17 October 2011

Big Society or Waffle? - Voluntary Sector Funds Pocketed by Tory-Run County Council

Many residents in our villages do regular volunteer work, and make a huge difference to isolated people who need help in their day-to-day lives.

The Care Network helps to coordinate many of these efforts: supporting community car schemes, luncheon clubs, mobile warden schemes, and so on. Funding for the Care Network comes from government and is channelled through the County Council.

Whether you are on the giving or receiving end, you will know that these schemes are part of the fabric that holds our village communities together. Of course, this is exactly what we are told the ‘Big Society’ is all about—something the County Council apparently supports.

But, in an alarming twist, government funding earmarked for Care Network projects is being retained by the Conservative-led County Council for other projects This includes £49,500 for community car schemes—ironically, at a time when the County Council has made a 100% cut to bus subsidies and has suggested that community transport schemes should take up the slack. Such contradictions are difficult to understand.

The Care Network is not alone. Other community projects watching their money diverted away by a crafty council include the Connections Youth Bus, which provides a mobile youth service across South Cambridgeshire villages and is ever more important following the County’s slashing of the youth services budget.

Everyone knows that local authorities are looking for extra cash, but pocketing government grant funding intended for already-planned community projects is simply wrong. Susan and County colleagues will be using the ‘call-in’ right to have the decision reviewed.