Cambridge’s Labour City Council is spearheading the fight against poverty caused by the coalition government’s austerity through reforms to community grant funding. At a Community Services Scrutiny Committee meeting on 15 January, the Council is expected to approve £900,000 in community grant funding in advance of the Council’s budget for 2015-16. The funding is set to support groups whose proposed activities would reduce inequality in the city for residents with greatest need.
The grants will fund groups providing sporting, arts, cultural and community development activities, as well as legal advice and support. The grants will specifically support improving health and wellbeing, bringing communities together, improving job opportunities and creating a stronger voluntary sector in the city. Groups which stand to receive funding include The Junction, Cambridge Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Cambridge Women’s Resource Centre, Cambridge Disabled Kids Swimming Club, Cambridge and District Volunteer Centre, Cambridge Council for Voluntary Service, Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum, Cambridge Housing Society (CHS) Group, Centre 33, Encompass Network, Homestart Cambridgeshire Family Group, Richmond Fellowship and SexYOUality.
The Council has prioritised reducing poverty in response to cuts imposed on the Council’s national funding grant by the coalition government -; cuts which have seen community grants funding reduced. After being elected in May 2014, Cambridge’s Labour City Council succeeded in reducing cuts proposed by the previous Liberal Democrat administration by 5% and introduced the new anti-poverty pledge. There will also be special transition fund to give one-off funding to some of those organisations facing a lower level of grant than they received in past years.
Labour’s Executive Councillor for Community, Arts and Recreation, Cllr Richard Johnson, said: “Labour’s plans put the City Council on the frontline against the vicious austerity of the Lib Dems and Tories in government which is hitting the poorest the hardest. We have reduced the cuts planned by the previous Lib Dem City Council and we are making anti-poverty initiatives the central priority in funding communities. The fact is that the Lib Dems cannot match our plans because they do not think poverty is a problem in a two-tier city Cambridge. Despite Lib Dem scaremongering that groups like the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and Women’s Resource Centre would see their funding reduced, such groups will keep their current funding levels.”