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Civil Society Minister Nick Hurd blames 'local' decisions - not Government funding - for cuts at Harrow Council
A Government minister has criticised Harrow Council over cuts to charity funding in the borough, saying its financial situation was the result of decisions "made locally".
On a visit to Harrow today, Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said decisions on charity funding were made locally and were not due to the national financial situation.
The MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner contrasted Harrow with neighbouring Hillingdon, which he said received the same amount as Harrow, but was "in a much better situation".
The MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, who is responsible for policy and programmes that support charities and community organisations, was meeting leaders of voluntary and community organisations in Harrow.
This week, the Harrow Times reported how the borough's branch of Home-Start, a charity that supports young families, faced closure after its contract with Harrow Council was not renewed.
The news followed an announcement by the borough's Citizen's Advice Bureau that it would have to end its face-to-face advice sessions, and a call from Harrow Assocation of Disabled People to support the voluntary sector.
Mr Hurd said: “Obviously I regret the cuts to charities like Citizens Advice Bureau and Home-Start, which have been made because of a difficult financial situation.
“I’m an MP for Hillingdon and Harrow and I don’t think the two are very different but Hillingdon is a much better situation financially, which I think this is down to choices that have been made locally.”
The cabinet minister said he understood that charities faced a difficult funding situation but said people did not have to write a big cheque to help them.
Instead he urged residents to get involved.
He added: “Charities bring people together and support people to keep things going.
“It is the responsibility of all of us to be aware of the needs and challenges they face.
“It is a difficult funding environment and the council is investing some money but the Harrow community needs to get more involved.”
Harrow Borough Council is currently campaigning to increase the amount it receives from the Government.
Mr Hurd said he would speak to the MPs for Harrow West and Harrow East, Gareth Thomas and Bob Blackman, to review the funding the council is given.
He said: “If there is a good case for the grants Harrow gets to be reviewed then I will support it.
“Maybe the Government hasn’t kept up with how the situation in Harrow has changed.
“But as I said I don’t think Hillingdon gets much better funding, yet the financial situation there is much better.”
Angela Dias, the chief executive of the Harrow Association for Disabled People, attended the meeting with Mr Hurd and said charities in the borough were working to create a community and voluntary sector support service.
She said: “We are looking at putting in place something that is much more stable for the future.”