Reading Refugee Support Group (RRSG), which has been working with the Basis Project, has had a grant withdrawn by the Office of the Third Sector, despite having been formally offered the money in October.
Here’s the full text of the Group’s press release issued earlier this week:
Angela Smith, the Minister for the Third Sector, has informed the Reading Refugee Support Group that a grant the RRSG received from the campaigning Research Programme of Capacity Builders has been withdrawn.
RRSG was informed of the minister’s decision to reverse the grant via an undated letter of November which came only weeks after RRSG had signed the agreement with the first phase of the grant due to be delivered in November.
RRSG feels particularly aggrieved as the grant was to be used to fund a project aimed at training asylum seekers and refugees to deliver presentations and run campaigns, activities which would certainly enhance the personal confidence of individuals from this marginalised group, and also aid the process of integration into local communities.
The Minister in her letter informed RRSG that the funding stream has now been transferred to the Hardship Fund which the minister reminded is reserved for assisting larger third sector organisations which offer assistance and advice to the most vulnerable groups in society.
The minister’s decision seems strange in the light of the fact that refugees and asylum seekers that RRSG advises and supports are indeed disadvantaged and marginalised. Additionally, to qualify for a grant from the Hardship Fund a charity’s annual turnover must exceed £150,000:
RRSG’s annual turnover is less than this threshold figure.
So in addition to asking the minister to reverse her decision, RRSG has asked for the intervention of Messrs Martin Salter and Rob Wilson MPs for Reading.
RRSG is one of 32 small organisations to have had funding withdrawn in this way and voluntary sector leaders have condemned the move as against the rules of the Compact. It is also possible (some say likely) that the decision was against the law, although Third Sector magazine reports that legal remedy could still be difficult.
The National Council for Voluntary Organisations has organised an online petition against the withdrawl of funding for the 32 organisations affected.