Council payments to Leeds charities falls by 10pc

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The amount of money Leeds City Council pays to the third sector in Leeds has fallen by nearly ten per cent over the past eight years.

New figures show the council spent £111.2m on payments to charities, community groups, faith groups, sports clubs, social enterprises and trade unions in 2016/17 – down from a peak of £123m in 2009/10.

Council chiefs say the cutbacks reflect the impact of central government’s austerity programme which has seen Leeds City Council’s overall funding reduced by 52 per cent – £239m – since 2010.

The figures – in a council report analysing 2016/17 payments to the third sector – also highlighted a reduction in the number of organisations paid.

This year the council provided funding to 1,664 organisations, compared to 1,860 last year.

The numbers of those receiving small payments of under £1,000 - such as a one-off grant to local sports teams or scouts troop - also fell, from 902 in 2015/16 to 747 this year.

On top of the council’s £111.2m total charity spend this year, it also paid £22.5m to Aspire - the social enterprise which took over the council’s learning disability services in 2015.

Aspire and other social services accounted for 39 per cent of the council’s third sector spending, followed by adult social care with 20 per cent and children’s services with 15 per cent.

A funding league table showed, as well as Aspire, the top five was made up of Developing Initiatives for Support in the Community (DISC), housing provider St Anne’s, BUPA and Home Farm Trust, which supports adults with learning disabilities and autism.

Falling out of the top 25 this year was Opera North, United Response and Re’new Leeds.

The report said: “The stabliity in the scale of the council’s business with the sector has been maintained” despite “very challenging financial circumstances” and “significant demand led pressures in adult social care and looked after children, for example.”

Coun James Lewis, deputy leader of Leeds City Council, said: “While funding from central government has fallen by over 50 per cent in the last seven years our payments to third sector organisations have fallen by only 10 per cent.

“This shows the huge amount of vital work the third sector does on behalf of the council supporting some of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities as well as the arts and cultural initiatives which are so vital to a flourishing and compassionate city.

“The demand for many of these services continues to grow and we have to make increasingly difficult decisions about how we continue to fund them while our core funding is reduced.”