The Highland charity sector is set to see a significant cut in funding due to cuts to local government grants from Edinburgh.
Many local third sector organisations, like Women’s Aid, depend on support from the Highland Council, but with £50m worth of cuts on the horizon, budgets will be stretched to breaking point.
The grant to councils to offset the mandatory council tax freeze has remained static since 2007, ignoring the effects of inflation. In effect, council funding has been reduced by an average of 2% each year, over the 8 years the SNP have been in Government.
Highland Councillor and Scottish Parliament Candidate for Inverness & Nairn, Carolyn Caddick said: “Council tax and the local government grant have been frozen by the SNP for the past 8 years. Because of that, this year’s budget is without doubt the most unpleasant and difficult decision I or any elected member is going to have to make during their term in office.
“I want to see the administration of the council doing all they can to shelter our local charity organisations from the worst cutbacks. Even so, those in danger include Home Start Easter Ross, Skye and Lochalsh Young Carers, Crocus Child Bereavement, Who Cares (Advocacy for Looked after Children), National Autistic Society, Home Start Caithness, Highland Blind Craft, Citizen’s Advice Bureau….the list is a long and shocking one.”
The Scottish Government are now donating £10,000 to each of the 4 Women’s Aid branches in Highland – but at the same time they are taking the funding from Highland Council which removes any local decision making and ignores all the other charities that are losing out.
Carolyn said: “I was very pleased to hear that the Scottish Government are going to donate £10K to every Women’s Aid organisation in Scotland. That will go some way to mitigating the cuts that the Highland Council is being forced to make to Women’s Aid due to the savage cuts inflicted by Edinburgh this year. However, this does not address the cuts to all the other critical third sector organisations that work in tandem with the Council to support the most vulnerable in our society.
“My challenge to the SNP government in Edinburgh is to release their stranglehold on local charities and give the power back to local bodies to fund those who support our Highland communities.”