Clive Betts MP has today challenged Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to come clean about the representations he received from Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs to delay new guidance on council funding of the voluntary sector.
Clive Betts has also written to Nick Clegg MP asking him to make public any representations he made to Eric Pickles to delay action so that Liberal Democrat controlled Sheffield City Council could continue to implement 15% cuts in grant aid to Sheffield voluntary organisations.
Clive Betts said today:
“With much fanfare, Eric Pickles told voluntary sector representatives that he was taking action to prevent councils making ‘disproportionate cuts’ in grant to voluntary organisations.
Those representatives were left with the clear impression that he intended to take urgent action in relation to this year’s council budgets.
I immediately wrote to Eric Pickles saying that, if that was his intention, he must make an immediate announcement about the detail of his policy because it was unfair to both councils and voluntary organisations to leave them with uncertainty.
In particular, I asked him to be clear about what he meant by ‘disproportionate cuts’ as Sheffield City Council was making a 15% cash cut in funding local voluntary organisations.
Despite reminders, there has been no reply. Then, this week, Eric Pickles published new guidance for consultation which has absolutely no effect on this year’s council decisions.
Why might this be? I believe that Eric Pickles was lobbied heavily by Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs and Council leaders to delay because of the scale of the cuts they were already making to voluntary organisations in their areas.
I have written today to Eric Pickles asking him to publish the details of all the representations he received and which led him to delay taking action.”
Clive Betts continued:
“I have also written today to Nick Clegg MP reminding him that the claims he has made about Sheffield City Council’s budget simply don’t stand up to scrutiny as I set out in an Early Day Motion. I have also asked him to make public any representations he has made to Eric Pickles to ensure that Liberal Democrat controlled Sheffield City Council can continue to make 15% cuts in grant aid to the voluntary sector this year.”