SEWN is disappointed to see that Council in this LTP continues to treat economic development more favourably than social / community development – an approach that has been consistent over several plans now.
Over the term of the draft plan, the budget for economic development shows a 3.7% increase. In contrast, the budget for Strengthening Communities grants declines – if we take it from this financial year’s budget, it is a decline of almost 12%.
Understanding the Council’s commitment to funding the non-profit sector is complicated by the removal of around $1 million from this year’s Strengthening Communities grants budget to be placed in a separate Community Resilience Partnership Fund. There is no indication where in the LTP budget this three-year fund is included, or whether the funds removed from the Strengthening Communities fund will be re-allocated to the sector in some other budget line when the fund ends.
The Council’s various discretionary grants are an extremely important source of funding for the many non-profit / community based groups and organisations that are so fundamental to developing and maintaining community wellbeing and resilience in Christchurch. SEWN urges that social / community development be treated equally to economic development, as both are equally essential to the wellbeing of Christchurch communities.
The council has often stated how much it values the contribution of the sector to Christchurch wellbeing. It is important that decisions are taken that reflect that sentiment. SEWN strongly recommends that this could be demonstrated by abandoning the cuts to the Strengthening Communities grants budget over the life of the Plan and instead increasing them by the same percentage as the 10 year budget for economic development.
Sharon Torstonson, Kaituiora, Social Equity & Wellbeing Network (SEWN)