I work with a voluntary organisation in a big northern city. We offer a drop-in centre — washing facilities, food, health and housing advice — to people who are addicts, often homeless and with mental and physical health problems. Last year, we had 2000 visits from clients.
We did this on £70,000 of funding. More than half came from our local council. We got a new form from the council a few weeks ago. Can we tell them how much it would affect us if they cut that grant? 1. a bit; 2. quite a lot; 3. a lot? (Give percentages).
So we answered the question.
Answers. 1. 5% cut. No more training activities for clients. 2. 15%. No more laundry or cooked meals either. Start looking for cheaper premises. 3. 25%. Move premises, spend our reserves, but still close down (within about six months).
But just after we sent the form off today, an email arrived from the Transition Fund, which is funded by the Office for Civil Society. It says that if we expect a cut of 30% more in our taxpayer funded income next year (that means the money from the council) it will help us to “become stronger, more agile and adjust to the new spending environment”.
The Civil Society people say:
“We expect that you will spend your grant on a number of activities that could include:
• developing and redesigning existing and new services in the public service areas;
• restructuring or moving to a different business model, including redundancy costs where necessary;
• the costs associated with moving services to or from other organisations;
• the costs of developing new partnerships, alliances, mergers and/or shared services;
• staff training;
• getting expert advice and support”.
Sacking staff or getting the consultants in, yes. Offering a service for people who need it, no. They aren’t agile enough for the Big Society.