Subsidy for scouts to use schools shouldn't be scrapped says council's scrutiny committee

Proposals to cut subsidies for community groups that use schools as their venues should be scrapped, according to councillors scrutinising Northamptonshire County Council’s budget.

Thursday, 31st January 2019, 7:04 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 8:10 pm
County commissioner for the Scouts, Dean Smith, speaks to councillors

The authority included a scheme which would save £56,000 from the 2019/20 budget by cutting the subsidy.

Uniformed groups, such as the Scouts and Guides, as well as other community groups would see their rent rise if the cut is given the green light.

Dean Smith, the county commissioner for the Scouts in Northamptonshire, said: “If the grant is removed we anticipate that the rent we pay for schools would go up by 200 to 300 per cent, and that’s a significant increase that could only be borne by parents, who would have to pay more, or through fundraising. But neither of those are good outcomes.”

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Mr Smith attended the latest overview and scrutiny meeting at County Hall on Wednesday morning (January 30), where members agreed to recommend to the county council cabinet that the proposal should not proceed.

The scrutiny committee agreed that the impact of the cut would outweigh the intended benefit by having an ‘adverse impact on the community and on future demand for statutory services’.

It also highlighted a potential conflict with Government policy that encouraged more involvement in uniformed youth groups, and that there was the potential of increasing social inequality.

The council was to remove the subsidy as it did not form part of a core offer of statutory services that the council could provide after a section 114 notice banned expenditure.

Mr Smith added: “We are grateful to the committee for recommending this, but we understand that the cabinet might not choose to accept it. We will continue to work with the Guide group, and lobby councillors.”