Council awards nearly £230,000 to voluntary groups

Cabinet councillors at Lewes District Council have approved nearly £230,000 in continued funding to key voluntary groups for the next financial year.

The biggest beneficiary is Lewes District Citizens Advice with a £175,340 grant, while further money is being allocated to 3VA (£28,000), Action in Rural Sussex (£3,500), Somptiri (£10,000) and Lewes District Churches Homelink (£11,800).

Councillor Johnny Denis, Cabinet Member for Communities and Customers, said:

“We are committed to supporting voluntary groups which deliver important services for our district and make significant contributions to our community.

“These groups were promised three years’ funding by the previous administration and we are happy to confirm that commitment.  These groups need the assurance that they can continue with their planned work. 

“The district council has a proud record of support for local good causes and it is a legacy that the Co-operative Alliance will build on.”

As this is the second year in a three-year funding plan, councillors received updates on how council funding for 2019/20 was spent:

  • More than 1,900 residents used the district’s Citizens Advice service over the past year – and at least 20% of them were council tenants – with the largest proportion seeking help related to welfare benefits such as Universal Credit.
  • 3VA, which provides support for voluntary and community organisations, has helped 42 groups based in the district including Lewes Open Door and Lewes District Dementia Action Alliance.
  • Council funding for Action in Rural Sussex (AiRS) specifically supports the organisation’s work with village halls and community buildings within Lewes district, and includes monthly newsletters and a county conference.
  • Sompriti, a project run by Sussex Community Development Association that supports black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities and individuals, has so far helped 20 BAME local residents access a range of employment, health and wellbeing and social activities. Sompriti has also given community development support.
  • Homelink, which provides housing deposits and rent in advance to homeless households and those at risk of homelessness referred by the council’s housing needs team, has helped 44 households so far this year.

Councillors also agreed to continue funding that provides advice to people applying for Universal Credit until August 2020.

Additionally, they approved a review of the council’s grants policy to ensure it is in line with the new Corporate Plan. Any policy changes will not impact upon the current three-year funding programme.