Fear that cuts could kill voluntary sector

Midlothian House, the main office for Midlothian Council, Buccleuch Street, Dalkeith.
Midlothian House, the main office for Midlothian Council, Buccleuch Street, Dalkeith.

The proposed council cuts announced last week “could kill the voluntary sector” claims the Midlothian Council for Voluntary Service (CVS).

Also known as Midlothian Voluntary Action, the group is worried about the impact the proposals announced last week would have on local voluntary organisations and community groups.

The proposed cuts include a £600,000 reduction in the Grants Budget for voluntary and community groups, a £50,000 cut to Midlothian Sure Start’s budget, a 45 per cent increase in the rent for after school clubs, and the end of support for gala days.

Midlothian Voluntary Action manager Dr Lesley Kelly said: “Obviously we are devastated, we are looking at a £600,000 cut to the budget and lots of things being transferred to community groups.

“We appreciate the very difficult position they are in but from our point of view these cuts would mean that the voluntary sector in Midlothian would be lucky to survive. Everybody is competing for the same lottery money so there is no guarantee this will pick up what we would lose from the council. These cuts could kill the voluntary sector in Midlothian.

“I hope we can work in partnership with the council to avoid the worst of these cuts or look at inventive solutions to bridge the gap. We did some research which found that for every pound the council invests in the voluntary sector it gets £6.56 back in terms of money we draw in from other funders. Not to mention that we are providing services that the council often can’t afford to.”

Midlothian Council leader, councillor Derek Milligan (Lab) said: “We fully appreciate all the hard work that voluntary organisations do, and the positive impact that this has on the lives of local people. There’s no doubt that if they went ahead, the savings proposals put forward last week by our council officials would have a devastating effect on services the council provides, as well as the voluntary sector in Midlothian.

“This is why it’s really important that as well as participating in the council’s budget consultation, I would urge the voluntary sector to support me in pressing the Scottish Finance Minister Derek Mackay for more badly needed funding for local councils. I will be making it clear, when I meet him next month, that continuing funding cuts are having a devastating effect on local communities.

“Unless the drastic cuts to council budgets stop, and more money is made available for the vital services needed to meet the growth in our communities the government demands, then we are in danger of ripping the very heart out of our society.”