New Deal – the end in sight

In September, Burngreave New Deal for Communities announced it would be cutting existing and planned projects. The programme was over-committed by £2.6million, meaning more spending was planned than covered by Government funding. On top of this the Government made an extra cut of over £880,000, resulting in a possible overspend of £3.4 million.

In class
In class

Community groups feel the pinch

The result is a 10% cut to all projects from April. Only a few of these are run by community-based groups which will feel the cuts hardest. Pitsmoor CAB Homevisiting project, SAGE Greenfingers and the Messenger have asked for New Deal to waive the cuts which would save the programme just £5,800. Diana Tottle of SAGE Greenfingers said:

“We feel that community projects in general, and SAGE Greenfingers in particular, will be disproportionately affected by such a cut. As a project we have blossomed in the last 6 years, made possible through New Deal support. However New Deal is now dealing a blow that could jeopardise the future of a project. The £2,700 saved from us seems paltry in comparison with the £881,000 they have to save overall.”

New Deal said the cuts must still be made, but if the financial position changed the board “… will do all they can to reinstate funding.”

No money for new projects

Some projects will not happen at all – New Government rules will prevent New Deal starting new projects. This means Pitsmoor Adventure Playground’s new building and plans for Ellesmere Green cannot have New Deal funding. It’s hoped this ruling won’t affect the Study Support project which had been promised extra money to extend that project until July next year.

Saleh Alnoud, Chair of YCA, which manages the Study Support project, said:

“The Study Support project has had a huge impact and we've seen it really change young people's lives. It would be a tragedy if the project ended now, right in the middle of an academic year.”

Bonfire Night fireworks
Bonfire Night fireworks

Festivals and parties under pressure

Green City Action will also see no more money for events and green spaces next year from New Deal. Manager Garry Smith said:

“I can't see any money being available for Abbeyfield Festival next year but that does not mean that the community will not have a festival. It needs to go back to the community. If we are able to make a profit on other events in the city next year, we’ll put money into it – but we need organisations to support the event. With the green space work we will have achieved everything we said we would do plus more. The funding from New Deal ends in May, but we’ll be looking for grant funding to do bigger green space projects.”

Cutbacks to New Deal’s own spending will make it difficult to continue the Bonfire Night and Festive Parties. They’ve also proposed further staff cuts, leaving only one regeneration manager from April, alongside other administrative savings.

“We’ll struggle to fund Abbeyfield festival next year, but we are working with partners such as Sure Start and Sheffield Futures to keep the Festive Party going, and we are doing our best to make sure the Bonfire event continues. The sea-side trip is unlikely to continue, though,” said New Deal Executive Manager, Ann Allen.

Vestry Hall
Vestry Hall

Sustainable buildings

The Vestry Hall, Sorby House and Forum House are all owned and subsidised by New Deal. The plan is for these buildings to be sustainable, and Sorby House must make a profit to subsidise the Vestry Hall long-term. Although Sorby House management say lettings are on target, it’s not a good climate for renting offices.

New Deal will to continue subsidising these projects in the coming year, as they can’t afford to let them fail. Ann Allen told the Messenger,

“New Deal’s reserves are being used to support these assets at the moment. We are looking at how to reduce costs and increase income. With the Vestry Hall we have had fantastic success in getting learning providers to use the building, including Sheffield College and Life Long Learning and Skills. We have pared back the staff team as far as it will go now, but we may be able to make further savings by sharing the management of all our assets together.”

What will the future hold?

Some projects will continue. Burngreave Opportunities, supporting people into work, has received funding from elsewhere, and has a good chance of getting mainstream funding.

From April a smaller number of projects will continue to be funded by New Deal Family Advocacy, Apprenticeships for All, Burngreave Advocacy now, Supporting Advice, Home-visiting project, Burngreave Health Shop, Burngreave Community Action Forum, SAGE Greenfingers, the Messenger, Streetworx, Activity Sheffield and possibly study support, will be the only remaining projects from April 2009.

Ann Allen said:

“What’s important now is for New Deal and its projects to show the Government that we have a grip on the situation. We have to prove we have our finances under control, and be able to provide the right information as soon as it’s asked for. There have been issues with the management of the programme and we have to get it right if we want to be in a position to lobby the government for more money.”

This document was last modified on 2008-12-01 20:31:05.