The Council is playing another game of smoke and mirrors with the Voluntary Sector (VCS). The Conservatives propose a new approach in which the Voluntary and Business Sectors become key partners at the heart of the decision making process as we re-build Croydon together.
This week Croydon Council demonstrated the mixed messaging it provides to the voluntary sector. The good news is that the Council are delaying the planned £400,000 cut to the community fund in 21/22. But scratch beneath the surface and the true picture is revealed. Labour have already abolished the
- Ward Councillors Community Budgets slashed (£420,000 Labour Cut)
- Emerging Needs Grants (£100,000 Labour Cut)
- Small Grants programme (£100,000 Labour Cut)
Other policy proposals in the budget will also have a massive effect on the voluntary sector:-
- Start charging market rents to voluntary sector for use of Council Buildings (up to £1m additional cost to VCS).
- Stopping discretionary rates and rent relief offered to VSC organisations (unknown cost).
- Cutting the Council’s Gateway services and Welfare Rights Teams which will put more pressure on the information and advice services that the voluntary sector in Croydon provides.
The sad truth is that since Labour took control of the Council in 2014 they have been perusing a policy of centralised control and concentrating power and decision making to a handful of Councillors. These Councillors have scared away the Business Sector (Westfield) by using bureaucracy and an over complex planning system. At the same time they have thrown a few funding crumbs to the voluntary sector, whilst excluding community organisations from the key decision making process.
When the Conservatives take back control of Croydon Town Hall in 2022 we will take a very different approach. We recognise that the voluntary sector have expertise at running customer focused services and reaching out to groups within society that the Council never speaks to. We also recognise that the business sector can bring inward investment into the town and run efficient services. We also need to improve our partnership role with other Councils to provide back office functions such as HR and IT services.
The Council will still have a role in monitoring contracts and making sure that residents are receiving the best value for money and providing some statutory services that only they can provide.
We all recognise that seven years of Labour’s centralising control culture has lead the town to bankruptcy. However, as Croydon Voluntary Action and thirty other voluntary sector organisations have proposed in the last few weeks - we can rebuild a better Croydon in the future if we can all work in partnership together. To turbo boost the partnership approach residents need to vote Conservative in May 22.