CUTTING grants to Dorset charities and voluntary organisations is one of the options being considered by Dorset Council.

A report to Cabinet next week (Nov 5) suggests that only the Citizens Advice Bureau funding is likely to be guaranteed, for now, but at a standstill figure, which represents a cut in real terms.

Councillors are being asked to back a consultation exercise on a range of grant options for the future, all of which seek to do away with wide-ranging variations in grants by previous councils.

The focus of the report is that common approach across the county and a preference for charities and other organisations which ‘support’ council services.

Some councillors fear that this may mean cuts to arts and cultural organisations, a view expressed last week by Dorchester councillor Stella Jones.

Among the largest current arts and culture grants is £66,300 to Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra; £127,000 to the Arts Development Company and £231,000 to three museums in Dorchester, Wimborne and Bridport.

A report to Cabinet on November 5 envisages what it describes as ‘modest savings’ in the 2021/21 grants budget, possibly around £160,000 depending on which approach is finally chosen.

The authority spends almost £2m now on grants to ‘outside’ organisations – honouring previous commitments when it came into being in April this year for only a year.

Councillors are being told that the previous spending was not geographically or proportional in any other way – with some areas receiving significantly more than others, which has led to inequality across the Dorset Council area: For example, West Dorset District Council, in its final weeks, approved grants totalling approximately £600,000 for 2019/20 in its area – the highest of any of the districts; while North Dorset District Council approved grants totalling approximately £70,000 for 2019/20 for its area – the lowest of the districts.

Options likely to go out for consultation on future grants include ‘no change’; maintaining the level of funding but changing the criteria; and cutting all grants, apart from the £550,000 to the CAB, by 10 per cent.

A final decision is expected to be made in the New Year.