Council stresses importance of partnership approach to funding charities

A positive relationship with the capital's voluntary sector has been essential in managing the impacts that the recession has had on public funding.

So said Cllr Jenny Dawe, Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, who added that vital changes in how the authority allocates money to voluntary bodies had been successfully developed through working with charities and other organisations.

A streamlined funding system, which also puts more emphasis on outcomes and performance, will be put to the Council's meeting on Thursday 11 March, along with recommended allocations of more than £20m for the next financial year. The proposals come after sustained discussions with voluntary sector interests, mostly through the Edinburgh Compact, which represents public and voluntary organisations.

Cllr Dawe said: "In recent years we have made real strides in developing our relationships with those organisations providing valuable services and support to the people of Edinburgh, and we fully acknowledge the importance of the work they do, especially during a recession. The current economic situation means there is more demand for Council and voluntary sector services, yet it also means we have less income. It's a shared problem and it needs a shared response. The fact that we have been able to face these incredibly difficult times together is a measure of how far we have come."

Cllr Dawe added: "We have managed to preserve funding at 95% of last year's level. The taxpayers of Edinburgh would expect us to review the funding that we provide to reduce duplication and to ensure that services are efficient and provide best value for money. So, there are some necessary changes in funding, which reflect assessments of effectiveness and priority, and where there is an impact we are proposing winding-down arrangements that are in line with charities' recommended practice."

The Council agreed in October 2009 that all funding applications for 2010-2011 would be considered against the objectives in the Edinburgh Partnership's Single Outcome Agreement. The Council has also taken steps to simplify and speed up the application process for charities, and to introduce an online performance and quality assurance system.

Harriet Eadie, Chair of the Compact, said that: "The voluntary sector partners in the Compact are obviously disappointed that the current financial situation has led to a 5% reduction in voluntary grant funding. However, we are pleased to be working in partnership with the Council to minimise the effects of these cuts on vulnerable communities and their services."

Proposed funding for 2010-2011 is £20,645,775 compared with £21,769,000 in the previous year. The budget reductions are around the same level as for some frontline Council services and considerably lower than the savings expected of much of the Council

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