Voluntary Action Arun & Chichester Press Release – 20th December 2016

Funding cut by Arun District Council for support to local groups and charities

Voluntary Action Arun & Chichester (VAAC) are disappointed and concerned by the 20% cut in funding agreed at the Arun District Council’s Cabinet meeting on the 12th December. The cut will be from April 2017 and the implications of this will impact on the support that VAAC are able to give to the voluntary and community organisations delivering services within the Arun district.

VAAC provides support and advice to voluntary and community groups across Arun and Chichester districts. VAAC’s 390+ members get help to start new organisations and ongoing support to find funding, recruit volunteers and give them the tools to run effectively. The majority of VAAC’s members are small with limited resources and funds. A reduction in VAAC’s funding will inevitably impact on what we can deliver which could undermine the viability of local community groups.

VAAC is held in high regard by its members as Jan Sheward from Cancer United states:
“VAAC is an extraordinary organisation with the most extraordinarily skilled, knowledgeable and dedicated team. Cancer United has been a member of VAAC for four years during which time the VAAC team has been an invaluable asset offering its help and support with many different projects and grant funding applications.

Since Cancer United became a charity its growth has been meteoric and VAAC has played a huge part in that by its monthly informative meetings and networking events. VAAC is a resource that absolutely MUST NOT be lost because if Arun D.C allow that to happen many small organisations, groups and charities in the area would become very vulnerable and themselves might be in danger of disappearing. This country relies on charities to pick up the pieces that the private and public sector cannot cope with – without organisations such as VAAC they would struggle. We are appalled that the Council has seen fit to slash the VAAC budget and would ask them to seriously re-think about doing that.”

VAAC is particularly frustrated by the comments made by Cllr Chapman in relation to accountability, as reported in the Bognor Post 16th December, suggesting that we failed to answer a question on the effective measurement of our grant. VAAC presented a significant amount of information and answered questions, during the recent presentation to Arun District Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee. This is in addition to the quarterly reports on all aspects of our work which we provide to Arun District Council. These reports include feedback from our members which indicate the quality of our support and what it has enabled them to achieve. The Council have both officer and member representation on our Board which scrutinises and guides what we do. At no point have we had any comments or questions to suggest there are any concerns in relation to this.

Tony Sneller, Chairman of VAAC said, “This reduction in our funding comes on top of a 20% reduction by WSCC that will take effect between 2016 and 2018. We have had to reduce our staffing and use reserves to deal with this, with the intention of continuing to provide an excellent service to our members. To mitigate the impact of this further cut we will have to revise our services and dig even deeper into our reserves. The holding of reserves is good practice encouraged by the charity commission but there will come a point where we will no longer have sufficient reserves to plug the increasing ‘hole’ in our budgets. At this point the future of our organisation will be at risk.

The VAAC trustees will do all we can to minimise the negative impact on our members and we are grateful to our staff and volunteers for their dedication and commitment to our many members, especially at this difficult time.”

Attached infographics:
Year 1st April 2015 – 31st March 2016
6 months 1st April 2016 – 30th September 2016