Some of the country’s best known support services for elderly and mentally handicapped people face losing a financial lifeline following changes to the way Birmingham City Council distributes money to voluntary organisations.
Age Concern, the Alzheimers Helpline and MENCAP head a list of bodies who have been told some or all of their existing funding will end.
Others that will lose out include the Birmingham Institute for the Deaf, the Citizens Advice Bureau and Birmingham Focus on Blindness.
But scores of organisations that currently do not receive council funding will be handed grants for the next three years.
They include Autism West Midlands, Action for the Blind, Birmingham Citizens Advocacy, Deaf Plus Advocacy and the Older People’s New Opportunities Consortium.
The shake-up, four years in the planning, was defended by Sue Anderson, the cabinet member for adults and communities.
Coun Anderson (Lib Dem Sheldon) said the new system was more transparent and fairer and would allow the council to monitor closely the outcomes achieved by grant-aided organisations. Groups that had never before been able to secure council funding would now be helped.
Many of the organisations whose applications had been turned down will receive advice about other ways of accessing funding, she added.
Applications were judged by independent panels, whose membership included voluntary sector representatives, against criteria devised by the council.
Among the big names, Age Concern will lose existing grants totalling £155,000, but continue to retain one-year grants totalling £475,000.
MENCAP will lose funding totalling £273,000, but retain a £45,000 one-year grant. The Alzheimers Helpline grant of £68,000 has been cut, while the Citizens Advice Bureau will lose £324,000 but retain a £40,000 one-year grant.
Other casualties include CASI, the Carers Advice and Support Information service, which will lose existing funding totalling £800,000 and mental health support group Mind in Birmingham, which will lose £423,000. The Birmingham Asian Resource Centre will lose existing funding of £55,000.
The council’s £30 million three-year budget for voluntary groups was vastly over-subscribed. Selection panels had to sift through bids from 278 organisations totalling £60 million.
Coun Anderson said: “Some are going to be disappointed. It is not simply about eligibility but about outcomes across health, care and wellbeing and meeting the needs of all people.”