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Bracknell's community support organisation has 'a lot of hard work' ahead, says CEO

Published: 13 Feb 2013 19:302 comments

THE chief executive of Bracknell Forest Voluntary Action has said the organisation could see up to three quarters of its jobs axed - even it does receives a £60,000 bailout grant from council bosses.

BFVA chief executive Martin Gilman

THE chief executive of Bracknell Forest Voluntary Action has said the organisation could see up to three quarters of its jobs axed - even it does receives a £60,000 bailout grant from council bosses.

Martin Gilman spoke to the News this afternoon (Wednesday), after Bracknell Forest Council's executive committee decided to delay approval on extra funding that the organisation had requested.

BFVA already receives a £141,000 annual grant from the council, but since losing its Carers' Support Service and Domestic Support Service contracts with the council last September, has struggled to balance its books.

The £60,000 funding gap is also a result of the organisation losing its central government funding last year, which was about £20,000 a year.

"It's almost a perfect storm," said Mr Gilman. "We're hoping they [the council] will give the go ahead on the money, but even on that we will lose posts here. It's still going to be tight - £60,000 is the minimum we need."

He said a loss of income and more overheads mean that come April, there could be just three staff members in the office at Amber House, Market Street, Bracknell - down from the 14 employees at present.

Without the £60,000 BFVA will close down entirely on March 31.

He added: "We've known for months we've got problems but there are people's jobs on the line here. We want to work with the council and find a way to change our business model so we can get more income."

According to borough finance chief Cllr Alan Ward, who spoke at the meeting earlier today, the council is not convinced that the BFVA operation is being sustainably-run and it is not necessarily delivering in the way councillors would like it to.

He added discussions with BFVA have gone well, but that they "weren't satisfactory to draw the decision to a conclusion" there and then.

Speaking after the meeting, council leader Paul Bettison said delaying the approval of the grant would give BFVA more time to discuss the conditions of the funding - which would require it to work closely with the council in 2013/14 to become more sustainable.

He added: "There's nothing terribly difficult there so I'm hoping they will agree to the conditions so that we can, in turn, agree to the additional money next week."

A report by council chief executive Tim Wheadon said a one-off £60,000 grant could be met from the council's transformation reserves.

A decision on the cash boost will be made by the full council on Wednesday, February 27.

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