A political group has criticised the decision not to support a ‘hardship fund’ worth £40,000 for struggling East Lindsey residents.
The East Lindsey Independents have spoken out after their proposal to set up the East Lindsey Community Hardship Fund to support groups like the Community Larder and Home Start, was rejected by councillors at the East Lindsey District Council budget meeting on February 27.
According to Independents group chairman Coun Edward Mossop (pictured) of Marshchapel, much of the support for such organisations will be lost when the government’s Social Fund is scrapped next month in favour of a more locally-based scheme.
Concerned about the effects on the local population, the group proposed an amendment to the budget, but the vote was lost.
And Coun Mossop has questioned the authority’s decision to spend £350,000 on its events budget for 2013/14 whilst councillors vetoed the hardship fund.
“We already know that some of the voluntary groups working in East Lindsey have seen a 30 per cent increase in their caseloads in the past year due to welfare reform and the economic squeeze,” he said.
“The budget that was passed last week proposes another cut to community grants and yet continues to support a festival whose benefits to the local taxpayer, especially in the northern part of the district is questionable.
“The new system of vouchers, whilst probably needed, will create cross-boundary inconsistencies and there will be less money around.
“We are determined to support those organisations that deliver such an important and vital service throughout East Lindsey during these tough times.”
ELDC’s portfolio Holder for Finance, Coun John Upsall, said: “The East Lindsey Independent Group put forward a budget proposal that had good intention.
“Whilst we supported the principles of what they aimed to achieve they should have brought their ideas forward, as other groups did, at the pre-budget workshops so they could be properly costed and discussed.
“As such the proposals didn’t achieve a balanced budget, which they legally had to.
“I hope the group will bring their ideas forward again as we approach the budget discussions for 2014/15.
“Over the next year the council will continue to invest millions of pounds on a range of schemes that support and protect some of the most vulnerable people in our community.”