Funding for volunteer group secured for two more years

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GRANTS for a voluntary support group have been secured for another two years, but doubts were raised over the long-term future of the funding.

Voluntary Action Arun and Chichester (VAAC) has been recommissioned by Chichester and Arun district councils until 2016, in a joint venture with West Sussex County Council.

But concerns were raised over whether the county council would stay on board after 2016.

“We all know what’s happening at West Sussex County Council and any funding they’re currently providing is under threat,” said Chichester District Council member Josef Ransley, at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.

“It is falling on our shoulders rather than West Sussex County Council.”

But he said the district council must try to persuade the county council to ‘stay on board’.

“Voluntary work is becoming more and more important in our communities,” he said.

The Bognor-based voluntary group became VAAC in 2012, after Voluntary and Community Action Chichester District and CVS Arunwide merged.

VAAC supports voluntary groups in the Arun and Chichester districts and is currently funded jointly by West Sussex County Council, Arun District Council and Chichester District Council.

Chichester District Council signed up for another two years at Tuesday’s meeting pledging to give the group a £42,400 grant per year until March 2016.

West Sussex County Council will remain on board until that time, with a £34,647 grant for 2014/14 and £35,478 in 2015/16, exclusively for the Chichester district.

Arun District Council has pledged to stay on board, but the amount a figure hasn’t been approved.

Cabinet member Tony Dignum said: “Obviously all of this money is going to be spent in the Chichester district to ensure it is spent with us and not spent in Arun, if Arun are mean about what they put in?”

But council assistant director Steve Hansford, said: “Arun actually exceeded what we put in.”

He confirmed the money provided by Chichester District Council would be spent supporting voluntary groups in the distinct.

Cabinet members also heard the findings of a consultation by a task and finish group on the work of VAAC.

Leader of the council Heather Caird, said: “It is very good to read the consultation report shows the only concern is the area of marketing rather than the work they actually do.”

The group found 90 per cent of the service users said they felt very supported by VAAC.

The report put before the council by Mr Hansford said if the funding for VAAC was to cease, ‘there would be a significant impact to the community and small community groups’.

Visit to find out more about the group.