Waltham Forest charities under-funded

Community Transport Waltham Forest

Community Transport Waltham Forest’s elderly shopping service has been one of the local voluntary services under threat of closure

Voluntary groups in Waltham Forest receive significantly less funding than neighbouring boroughs.

This was a key finding of the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) Review commissioned by Waltham Forest Council, and which has now been published after a six-month delay.

The review found the borough has fewer charities for its size, with 2.7 per 1,000 people compared to 4.3 in Haringey and 7.6 in Hackney, and that the volunteering rate, at 19 percent, was lower than London’s 26 percent average.

As reported by the Echo in January, VCS funding plummeted by a third in five years, and several charities closed or significantly reduced services in a situation described as a “crisis” by Voluntary Action Waltham Forest (VAWF).

The council has been criticised for cutting grants but the VCS Review, conducted by consultants Rocket Science for £32,900, also highlighted a lack of funding from Trust for London, Big Lottery Fund, and City Bridge Trust.

Recommendations include establishing ‘neighbourhood enablers’; developing a ‘special purpose vehicle’ to deliver services; and creating a grant system to distribute funding effectively. The council itself aims to rely on VCS groups more in future as it makes spending cuts of £45m.

Catherine West, chief executive of local not-for-profit Significant Seams, told the Echo: “I see improvements in understanding the huge support work community groups provide, but while I applaud how swiftly the council is moving, I’m concerned at the lack of infrastructure support amid such dramatic change.

“Extra pressures could lead to further organisations failing or catastrophic incidents for vulnerable people.”

To read the VCS report:

Visit www.voluntaryaction.net/sites/voluntaryaction.net/files/3.%20VCS%20Review%20Exec%20Summary%20FINAL.pdf