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Voluntary Sector Funding Cuts in Derbyshire

We have recently learned that Derbyshire County Council is proposing to end their funding to voluntary services across the County. It is potentially devastating news for The Bureau and other voluntary organisations and community groups across Derbyshire, as well as the hundreds of lonely, isolated and vulnerable people that we all support in our communities.

A 12 week consultation began on 28th May 2024 called ‘End of discretionary grant funding’, which is open to a response from anyone who lives in Derbyshire. We need as many as people as possible to respond to this consultation, to let the Council know that they should prioritise support that tackles loneliness, isolation and wellbeing.

Derbyshire County Council are in challenging financial times and need to consider how to prioritise spending on services they are required to provide by law, against those that are optional or ‘discretionary’ – this includes some voluntary services, some of which are delivered by The Bureau and our partners across High Peak.

The proposal is to stop adult social care grants, which would affect grants totalling just over £722,000 across 30 community and voluntary groups. A further 20 groups would be affected by the proposal to stop corporate services and transformation grants, totalling just over £333,000. These amounts combined are less than 0.13% of Derbyshire County Council’s total annual budget. This small cut won’t solve the Council’s deficit but will significantly impact on our communities by destabilising key voluntary sector organisations and the people that they support. These short-sighted cuts are also likely to have huge consequences in the long term, costing multiples of the amounts they are trying to save due to increased pressures on Adult Social Services and other statutory services.

The Bureau currently receives £42,000 from these grants to run our volunteering project and our Time Out supported shopping service. Without these grants, it would be very difficult for us to:

  • Provide volunteering opportunities in the Glossopdale area, meaning the potential loss of wellbeing opportunities and outlets for hundreds of people.
  • Recruit and support volunteers for our other projects such as the volunteer car scheme, or the telephone befriending service. Last year our Volunteer Coordinator recruited 67 new volunteers and supported around 300 active volunteers.
  • Support other groups and organisations with their volunteering needs. We currently work with many of the local charities and branches of larger organisations to fill their skills gaps and provide a vibrant, fulfilling experience to Glossopdale residents.
  • Provide social and practical support to our peer support group attendees – many of whom are incredibly isolated, lonely and vulnerable, and without our groups and activities may not speak to anyone for days at a time. These grants are a critical investment and have been incredibly beneficial to thousands of individuals throughout the years, building resilience in our communities and providing opportunities for friendship, support and engagement.

These programmes have been central to our organisation for decades and form a vital role in the rest of our services, meaning that we would be required to reconsider how we can deliver our services. We know that this relatively small investment into voluntary services across Derbyshire provides a vast amount of cost savings across statutory services, and the loss of this critical infrastructure will cause irreversible damage to communities. The voluntary sector across Derbyshire provides vital services that bolster Derbyshire County Council’s statutory requirements and we have proven many times, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, that we are well positioned to support the people who need it, when they need it.

We believe that there is a better way to go about this and want to encourage the local council to work with us to make the best long term decision for all involved. We need your voice to be heard about these cuts and how they might affect you too! The Council seem to be clear about what their intentions are. If we have any chance of changing their mind, we need as many people as possible to complete the consultation.

Please take 5 minutes to read the information on the Council’s website and then complete the consultation. Paper versions of the consultation are available to people who do not have access to a digital device by either calling 01629 533520 or collecting one from The Bureau on Henry Street.

To go straight to the consultation (it takes less than 5 minutes):  https://online1.snapsurveys.com/interview/9b3a1ef4-3cf6-4f27-9daa-5307a8a3408b

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