Mayor of London Ken Livingstone today expressed 'deep concern' that members of the Association of London Government grants committee had proposed cuts of up to one third in the London-wide grants budget for community and voluntary sector organisations across London.
In a letter to Merrick Cockell, chairman of the ALG, Ken Livingstone wrote: 'I am writing to express my deep concern about the future of grants in London following a recent meeting of the newly-constituted ALG grants committee.
'I understand that, at the grants committee meeting of 12 July, progress on the review of the scheme's priorities was not discussed as planned and that severe cuts - including cuts of 33% - to the overall scheme were proposed by members present.
'This action has created deep uncertainty amongst the community and voluntary sector, particularly as I note that you are now reviewing the open bidding process for grants. As you know, many of these pan-London groups are dependent on funding from the scheme.
'I gather that lesbian and gay organisations in the capital have already begun to express their concern about the possibility of cuts and I am sure that other groups and organisations will follow suit unless there is clarity from the ALG that there are not going to be cuts.
'It would appear that the majority of boroughs represented on the grants committee are not supportive of the scheme, and I have concerns as to how the positive changes I previously discussed with the ALG can be delivered.
'As you know, the function now carried out by the grants committee was originally with London government until the abolition of the Greater London Council. Grants are allocated on a strategic basis. Any proposed cut in grants would have London-wide implications and are therefore a matter of considerable concern to my office. In my view, given the gradual decline of the grants committee budget in real terms over 20 years, there is absolutely no case at all now for an actual cut, which would be a huge blow to the community and voluntary sectors.'