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A councillor believes Community Chest funding from West Suffolk Council should be allocated more fairly

More than £450,000 has been awarded to charities in West Suffolk – but calls for fairer funding have followed.

Last night, members of West Suffolk Council’s cabinet approved a £466,733 Community Chest — grant funding awarded to 32 different charities, community groups, and voluntary organisations across the district.

Included in the support provided by the groups involved were services helping children and young people who have been victims of sexual abuse, homelessness support, and cost-of-living advice.

Cllr Donna Higgins
Cllr Donna Higgins

Cllr Donna Higgins, cabinet member for families and communities, said the funding was a key way of supporting groups essential to local communities.

She added: “We recognise that sadly the cost-of-living crisis hasn’t gone away. People in our communities are struggling to make ends meet, whether with the costs of food, mounting debts, energy prices or their housing costs.”

In total, members of the council’s grant working party considered 46 different applications to the tune of just over £1 million.

West Suffolk Cllr Andy Neal
West Suffolk Cllr Andy Neal

However, during the meeting’s open forum, when non-cabinet members were able to raise questions, Cllr Andy Neal, who represents Mildenhall, called for fairer funding and a change in the way grants were allocated.

He brought his concerns to the cabinet after Mildenhall Town Football Club’s application for a share of the funding was one of 31 which did not meet the minimum matrix score for consideration.

He suggested charities and groups on the receiving end of the money, moving forward, should be given less priority the following year, and that money should be spread more equally across the different towns in the district.

He said: “Organisations cannot take funding as a guarantee revenue stream the way some currently do. Consideration for equal funding support for the whole of West Suffolk without exception is a must.”

Although Cllr Higgins guaranteed applications were all considered on their own merits and due weight was given to all of them, Cllr Neal said he was not left satisfied with the answer.

After the meeting, he added: “I know not everyone will get the funding they need, but every town contributes to the same pot, and we should all benefit from it.”