Voluntary sector’s bleak future as Mayor axes all funding

Croydon Voluntary Action, the council-funded umbrella organisation that coordinates the activities of much of the “third sector” in the borough, says it wants to “re-set” its relationship with the Town Hall as Mayor Jason Perry prepares to axe all funding for voluntary organisations.

No charity: Jason Perry receives £81,000 per year as the council’s Mayor

The Conservative Mayor announced in the autumn that the cash-strapped council’s Community Fund was “coming to a natural end” when its current round of £2.6million funding, distributed over the course of three years among more than 30 charities and community groups, finishes in March.

Despite the council’s financial collapse in 2020, the CVA and many of the volunteer groups managed to maintain their services for the vulnerable and needy throughout the covid pandemic.

Ahead of a meeting with Mayor Perry next week, Steve Phaure, the chief exec of the CVA, has issued a five-page statement which outlines the likely impact of Perry’s funding freeze.

Among the voluntary and charity groups affected will be:

Citizens Advice Croydon, which supports around 5,000 residents annually on issues at work, welfare benefits, housing problems, debt problems and relationship breakdowns and social isolation. “All of which now faces an uncertain future,” Phaure says.

The Asian Resource Centre, based at Broad Green, will no longer be able to offer its support to nearly 600 people who attend its and its partner groups’ activities every week.

South West London Law Centre, based in Davis House, provides nearly 1,000 people with advice and support through its clinics on working immigration and asylum, community care, employment and discrimination, housing, debt and welfare rights cases.

Croydon Vision will lose the funding for its Support and Enable Programme, resulting in an average of 15 residents per month diagnosed with sight loss no longer being able to access transport, lunch, social activities and educational workshops.

Croydon Drop In’s loss of funding for its outreach service will impact 1,500 young people every year. CDI has supported young people presenting after being diagnosed with depression, some with suicidal feelings, self-harming, eating issues and incidents of sexual abuse.

Mind in Croydon’s services will leave 2,500 local residents without any employment support, welfare benefits advice and mental health support. The cuts, Phaure says, will impact disproportionately people with disabilities.

Age UK Croydon’s Memory Tree Café has supported more than 200 people annually. “Its loss of funding means a step-in reverse for Croydon’s ambition to become a dementia friendly borough – and the 1,000 people annually supported through Age UK’s now unfunded Information and Advice service will be left without much needed support during the cost-of-living crisis,” Phaure says.

Phaure’s statement is issued on behalf of 32 organisations in total, all of whom will lose every penny of council funding from the end of March. They also include the Garwood Foundation, the Croydon Almshouses charities, Crisis and New Addington Good Samaritans.

Phaure’s statement also contained a warning for Mayor Perry and the council.

Warning: Steve Phaure

The council needs to prepare to deal with the many cases arising from this withdrawal of support now turning up at the front door of Fisher’s Folly. “Where will they go in the future to access support? How will the council front-door manage the increase in referrals?” he said.

Phaure’s paper talks about the voluntary sector working with the council to access as-yet untapped grants and investment in a belated effort to plug the gaps left by the Mayor’s funding freeze.

But as one Katharine Street source said today, “Isn’t that what the CVA is supposed to have been doing all these years?”

After ploughing through the CVA document, the source said, “The statement is just one long moan about how the teat of Croydon council public sector funding has run dry.

“There is no vision in the CVA statement that’s for sure.

“The CVA is a bureaucratic organisation that thrives on taking the cream off the milk for the voluntary sector with its levies on public sector funding flows.

“It is a contradiction in terms to have a voluntary sector which is not really voluntary but more a means of delivering local authority services through lower-paid charity sector staff and volunteers, a sector reliant not on private charity but on public sector contracts.

“There are some larger charities based in the borough that really should be doing more.

“A communitarian approach to creating a Croydon that cares for each other is a vision that Mayor Perry has not pursued.

“The chance is there, post-covid, to tap into the goodwill that neighbours showed to each other. ‘Croydon cares’ is the vision lacking from the Mayor and from the CVA’s statement.”

Read more: Perry about to giveaway millions in social housing flog-off
Read more: This is the stark human cost of the borough going bankrupt

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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11 Responses to Voluntary sector’s bleak future as Mayor axes all funding

  1. derekthrower says:

    Which right wing whacko is your source of these comments in Fisher’s Folly for the end of support of all charitable activity in Croydon. Amongst all this drivel it is surprising whoever it is doesn’t claim that caring is simply a “woke” activity and should not be undertaken. So much for Cameron’s big society. We have got Part Times bleak society instead or in this case there is no such thing as society.

    • Agreed, Delboy. Putting the boot into the CVA is only going to help Perry Mason abandon Croydon’s most vulnerable while his party mates in government get away with tax dodging and ripping off the public purse in other ways.

      In 1987, the idol of Part-timer’s eye, Margaret Thatcher, said this:

      “I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand ‘I have a problem, it is the Government’s job to cope with it!’ or ‘I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!’ ‘I am homeless, the Government must house me!’ and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. … [It] is, I think, one of the tragedies in which many of the benefits we give, which were meant to reassure people that if they were sick or ill there was a safety net and there was help, that many of the benefits which were meant to help people who were unfortunate … [t]hat was the objective, but somehow there are some people who have been manipulating the system … when people come and say: ‘But what is the point of working? I can get as much on the dole!’

      36 years later, Thatcher’s ‘there’s no such thing as society’ cynical snobbish uncaring attitude is alive and well in our Mayor’s miserable mind

      • Lewis White says:

        My guess is that in a few years, policies about reducing the factors that result in global warming will be reversed at the whim of a new Government, coal mines will be reopened and child miners and chimney boys and girls will be back in employment. Coal will be owned by new barons who are also government ministers, who will be sending profits to sheltered accounts in the British Virgin Islands (so patriotic- not the US ones)

        Already, in rural England, the roads are a series of potholes linked with temporary tarmac reinstatements, and have deep trenches along the edges, as bigger and bigger cars rip away at the banks along the country lanes, and globally warming-induced heavy rainstorms wash out the gravel.

        The drivers of white vans and chelsea tractors have wheels big enough to sail over the potholes, and are able to run off then run back on to the road, without ripping out the suspension or taking a wheel off.

        Meanwhile the “little man” and “little woman” driving small cars with small wheels go down a pothole or are forced off the road surface into the eroded trench by a big vehicle . Their wheels are small, and get bent or broken off. Suspension ruined.
        Their cars are worth a pittance as a right off. But they still need to get to work. Compensation from cash-strapped councils is not going to compensate.

        Mrs T so hated the GLC that she got rid of it. Her ghost inhabits the corridors of power even now, and the minds of many who stalk them.

        Welcome to what I heard a government person on the radio the other day call the World’s sixth wealthiest country. But who has the wealth? Private luxury for some, with fewer annoying civil servant, tax department penpushers creating red-tape to spoil the income stream, with public decline and a shrunken state for the rest ?

  2. If the right wing philosophy of shrinking the size of the state is allied with also shrinking the size of the voluntary sector, all we end up with is an enormous amount of unmet need among the most most vulnerable sections of our society in Croydon.

    It seems that at least one inhabitant of Fisher’s Folly imagines there is this caring society out there that is going to magically move in and relieve the Council of its obligations. There isn’t and it ain’t going to happen. They are as misguided as Perry. Get the two and half million back by chasing people like Negrini, not from services for the elderly and mentally ill people.

  3. Jen says:

    This is awful and mustn’t go ahead. The consequences will be a misuse of other public services, whereby people desperate for help will go to the places they can speak to someone. Cue people speaking to their GP about housing support etc.

    It’s short sighted and purely idealogical.

  4. One of the essential roles of the Council is to support charities providing essential services to its residents. The CAB, Age UK, CDI and the Law Centre are wonderful examples and must all be supported as well as funding for our young people to tackle the threat from gang culture. The Mayor must not waste our scarce resources on legal advice to disable the ULEZ.

  5. Ian Kierans says:

    Perry’s forced or unforced actions and inactions in a National Cost of Living Crisis may be seen to take the food from babies’ mouths, dignity from the elderly, assistance from the disabled and inflict a level of inhumanity that is unacceptable in a modern society.

    It gives a big lie also to the levelling up slogan of Conservatism under Johnson and tarnishes Gove also.

  6. Ernest Sweeney says:

    The Mayor should re-think this stopping of charity support and if necessary put a small levy on the council tax marked for CHARITY ORGANISATION SUPPORT to raise sufficient sum to continued supporting those charity organisation which it does now

  7. Has anyone else noticed the irony in Mayor Perry’s weekly message, which addresses those with mental health, legal and financial difficulties and provides a link to the Council website, which suggests CVA is the avenue to help from Mind and Citizens Advice Bureau etc. What kind of window dressing and flaming hypocrisy!

    • Ernest Sweeney says:

      I do not know how one person can make decisions which affect so many people without consulting those to be affected first, to ensure that such action will be able to be accepted and the organisations like CONTACT IN SELSDON will continue its services to the elderly which it has done for 50 years this year.
      I think this whole matter should be put to the peoples representatives i.e. Councillors’ who should be required to have its constituents vote on it.

  8. Sarah Bird says:

    Given the Mayor’s proposals ,no doubt the very well paid lawyers can advise the council of its statutory and moral duties in light of the cuts .Moreover ensure that the council acts accordingly with those duties at all times . The mayor could also enlighten the residents what efforts have been taken to chase the money . I think it would be sensible to reduce the bloated number of councilors ,as the cost of their attendances at meetings etc. could be used to help fund the charities who help so many residents.

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