Charities have reacted with shock after being told the government is reviewing a major funding stream for social care and health projects in the middle of their three-year grants.
The Department of Health has written to more than 50 organisations in years two or three of their section 64 funding, saying it will pay them a quarter of their 2006-7 allocation while the programme is reviewed alongside all central DH budgets.
The memo emphasises that the temporary allocation does not represent a commitment to continue the funding for the rest of the year and says confirmation of the full award will be notified only when the review is completed.
It adds: “We must emphasise that there is no presumption that the section 64 budget will be reduced or cancelled.”
The government has delayed a decision on this year’s new section 64 allocation since January (Charities’ work put at risk as government delays decision on grant applications, 29 March).
But charities in the middle of a three-year grant would expect to receive their funding automatically.
The National Autistic Society is entering the second year of two 150,000, three-year projects funded through section 64. These involve advocacy in education and building the social skills of people with Asperger’s syndrome.
The society’s director of national services, Eileen Hopkins, said although the organisation felt fortunate to receive the funding, the service users and their families would be disappointed if it were withdrawn.
She said: “We had no sense or understanding that a review was taking place. We’ve had section 64 funding for 15 years. It has funded many of our core programmes.”
Deafblind charity Sense is also entering the second year of a three-year project funded through section 64. Malcolm Matthews, director of community support and information, said he was “dismayed” the programme was being reviewed.
He said that the DH had promised to abide by the voluntary sector compact and give “adequate notice” of funding changes. However, projects that had already received a commitment for grants and were in years two and three of funding “could be put at risk by this change in the payment system”.