London Mayor Ken Livingstone has written to Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, asking her to transfer control of London’s voluntary grants away from the Association of London Government to the Mayor’s Office.
The move comes just weeks after the Mayor warned the ALG against imposing cuts in the grants given to the many voluntary bodies which operate in the capital and ahead of an ALG meeting which Livingstone’s office say is expected to approve “massive funding cuts”.
In his letter to Ruth Kelly the Mayor suggests discussions should be held “regarding the transfer of the grants scheme back to city-wide London government, to the office of the Mayor of London” – the grants were previously under the control of the Greater London Council before that body was abolished by the Tories in 1986.
The full text of Mayor Livingstone’s letter to Mrs Kelly reads:
“I am deeply concerned about the future of grants in London following the recent decisions of the London Councils Grants Committee.
In recent weeks, some members of the Grants Committee have openly advocated significant budget cuts and there is backing for plans to break up the London-wide nature of the Committee’s role by “repatriating” resources to the boroughs with no guarantees of ringfencing to the voluntary sector.
Such plans would, by definition almost certainly mean that poorer areas lose vital funding and services.
As you know, the grants function now carried out by the boroughs was originally with strategic-wide London government until the abolition of the Greater London Council. Grants are allocated on a strategic basis and any proposed cuts or change in priorities would have London-wide implications and is therefore a matter of considerable concern to my office.
I would like to open discussions with you regarding the transfer of the grants scheme back to city-wide London government, to the office of the Mayor of London.
I have already guaranteed publicly that should the scheme be transferred I will not cut the overall budget, ending this atmosphere of instability and uncertainty for the voluntary and community sector and its beneficiaries.”