Headlines: April 21st, 2006

Voluntary organisations involved in delivering health and care services say delays in the payment of grants from the Department of Health are causing them severe difficulties. They should have been told the outcome of applications at the start of this year but this has not happened.The grants that are due are made under the Section 64 funding stream that is intended to help voluntary groups that support Governments work in providing health and social care. The groups applied for funding in May 2005 and were told to expect an outcome by January. Now they say they have been told by the Department that it has breached the terms of the Compact stating that the outcomes of applications should be made known within a limit of three months.

Sultana Begum, the Compact advocacy officer at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations said the hold up had led to serious financial difficulties and insecurities for some groups. They were having to stall or discontinue some of their services to vulnerable groups. “They’re not able to fill key posts or take on additional staff. Some organisations aren’t able to access other funding streams because they require match funding,” she explained.

One of the organisations still waiting for the result of its application is the Cancer Counselling Trust. Its Director, Jonathan Lake, said it meant the group had no planning for sustainable funding. “We’ve had to warn staff that we are potentially making cuts, and we’ve also stopped any recruitment,” he said.