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Voluntary groups issue cuts warning

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Unions and voluntary groups are to join forces to campaign against the government’s spending cuts, arguing that they make a “mockery” of the government’s Big Society.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber accused ministers of driving through “savage” cuts which he said will impact hardest on the poorest, most vulnerable communities.

The union organisation said the voluntary sector was set to lose around £4.5bn because of the government’s austerity measures.

Mr Barber, left, said: “This unnecessary and economically damaging austerity will make Britain a meaner, nastier, more unequal place to live, so we’re bringing together unions and voluntary sector organisations to defend our civil society from attack and campaign against these cuts to vital support services.

“The TUC is keen to build the widest possible coalition against the cuts, involving unions, charities, community groups and faith organisations.”

Belinda Pratten, of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said: “We hear every day from organisations that are fearful for their future, and public spending cuts are already having a severe impact on charities’ ability to deliver vital services.

“Spending cuts must be managed intelligently, otherwise they will compromise the sector’s ability to support the individuals and communities who need them most. By working together, we can send a strong message to government about the scale of the challenges ahead.”

Neil Cleeveley, right, of the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action, said: “Public spending cuts are hitting local charities and community groups hard. Local grants budgets are being slashed and neighbourhood services face cuts at a time when people are turning to local charities for help.

“It’s a double whammy - squeezing them just as demand is rising. This will cause real damage to many communities, which is why we all have a duty to speak out to protect services for our most vulnerable citizens.”

Around 150 representatives from unions, charities and voluntary groups are expected to attend an event at the TUC in London.

Union activists will lobby Surrey CC urging it not to go ahead with spending cuts which would “slash” services.

Unison said the authority was considering job losses and cuts to adult and youth services as well as libraries.

Spokesman Chris Leary said: “Proposals being put to the council are a cutter’s charter. If Surrey CC really do stand up for local people, then they should fight for every penny.”

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