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Officers sought approval from Cabinet on Tuesday 5 November to consult the voluntary and community sector (VCS) on a range of funding options for 2020-21, and to review the level of funding to the VCS for future years.

At the meeting and following public statements from a variety of voluntary organisations, members of the public and Dorset Councillors, Cabinet agreed to carry out consultation as set out in the paper, but for an extended period of time. After some debate, Cabinet members also agreed to continue with current funding agreements.

Dorset Council currently spends £1.8m funding the VCS in Dorset and says it recognises the valuable contribution this sector makes to local communities, particularly in terms of helping people early on when they are facing problems, before they reach crisis point.

Councillor Tony Alford, Portfolio Holder for Customer and Regulatory Services said: ‘It’s so important that we listen to our partners and colleagues in the community and voluntary sector. This is especially so in times of change. Dorset Council is seeking to establish a basis of funding support that is not only fair and equitable, but also transparent. We will therefore encourage the sector to give us their views and we will take them into consideration. The funding arrangements currently in place will carry on until the new approach is adopted.’

Prior to the creation of Dorset Council on 1 April 2019, the previous district, borough and county councils provided various levels of funding for the sector with some areas benefiting more than others.

The proposed review of VCS funding seeks to address this inequality across the Dorset Council area and deliver some modest savings (between £0 and £160k) for the council’s 2020-21 budget.

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