Voluntary sector grants under review

Councillors Jim Muirhead and Kelly Parry.
Councillors Jim Muirhead and Kelly Parry.

Midlothian Council is to consult with voluntary organisations on a review of the way in which voluntary sector grants are awarded.

Ongoing budget pressures mean that the council has limited funding available and is carrying out the review to look at how to fund services across the county.

Midlothian Council paid out £1 million in grants to the voluntary sector this year, although it got back £128,600 in rental income and £303,949 in let charges. The current three-year grant cycle is due to end in March 2018, but the council last week decided to extend it by a further six months until September 2018, to allow the review to take place.

Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Jim Muirhead (Lab) said: “I think everybody will understand that given the discussions we have had today regarding the council’s budget that all factors are taken into account. It’s important that the grants given to voluntary bodies across our county form part of that so we can compare the work they do with what some of the work we are struggling to get the finance for.”

However, SNP group leader Cllr Kelly Parry wanted the extension to be a year, saying: “I’m just very nervous that organisations are saying to us they need 12 months, we are quite happy to listen to that advice.”

The six-month extension was approved, defeating Cllr Parry’s amendment.