Community funding scheme a stopgap measure: Mahuta (ODT)

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A community funding scheme has drawn criticism from Labour as a stopgap measure that trickles out funds without addressing the issues facing the sector.

The Community Response Fund was launched in 2009 as a two-year scheme to help community groups continue to deliver services to people hit hard by the recession.

It was extended for a further year in this year’s budget with an extra $25 million.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett today announced the first of three new funding rounds of about $8m each, with applications due by July 29.

Labour voluntary and community sector spokeswoman Nanaia Mahuta said it was clear the Government did not really have a plan to support the sector and was happy to “trickle out small amounts of funding each year”.

“The Community Response Fund puts the sector into a short-term funding cycle that only acts as a gap-filler,” she said.

Ms Mahuta said the Government lacked the vision to work constructively with the sector to plan for increased funding pressures and demand for services.

“It’s time for Paula Bennett to be accountable to the community and voluntary sector, and to work with the sector to better respond to the community’s real needs,” she said.

Ms Bennett said the Government had listened to community providers who said the fund was still needed, and had responded by extending it.

“We recognise grassroots social services are carrying a heavy workload and this funding will go a long way to relieving that pressure,” she said.

“This funding is a further acknowledgement of the vital role social service providers play and confirms that this Government is backing them.”

Some $55m has been allocated to more than 694 organisations through the Community Response Fund to date.

Thank you to the Otago Daily Times for this korero: http://www.odt.co.nz/news/politics/167985/community-funding-scheme-stopgap-measure-labour

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