New Opportunities to ‘Narrow the Gap’ in Reading

COMMUNITY and voluntary groups across Reading are being invited to shape priorities on how they can help the Council continue to ‘narrow the gaps’ that exist in the town.

Last year Reading Borough Council launched its first ‘Narrowing the Gap’ framework, to ensure that any funding or support available is directed at those in most need. Contracts are awarded to community or voluntary groups, who in turn provide services to those most in need of support in Reading.

Two events are being held over the coming weeks – the first on Thursday this week (Aug 17) – where a new framework will be developed setting out opportunities for voluntary and community groups to bid for funding from 2018 to 2022. The second opportunity to take part in shaping the next bidding round will be on September 26th. Both events will be held at the Civic Offices, between 1.30pm and 4.30pm.

The Council will outline bidding opportunities against a range of themes which help tackle poverty, support communities, manage community buildings,  promote wellbeing and reduce people’s need for statutory care.

Following the two events, groups can submit bids in November and December 2017.

Jo Lovelock, Reading Borough Council Leader, said:

“Reading is a town of contrasts, where strong economic prosperity sits alongside deprivation and a lack of opportunity.  The gulf between those who are well-off and those who are on low incomes continues to grow year on year. Health inequalities in particular are significant and there continue to be many residents who, through no fault of their own, are struggling to access the opportunities, help and support on offer.

“The Council’s funding will have been cut by the Government by £57.5 million between 2010 and 2020 and voluntary and community groups will know that over the years we have had to reduce expenditure due to the on-going need to make savings. We nevertheless remain determined to continue to focus our resources on the most vulnerable members of our community to ensure they are not left behind.

“We want to work with voluntary groups to develop a strategy for the next few years. This is the start of that process and we very much want to hear from voluntary organisations on how the first round of contracts have gone, and how to improve the process for the future.

“Community organisations in Reading have a proud history of supporting people to enjoy a better quality of life. The Council believes these groups will continue to play a key role in helping to narrow the gaps which we know continue to exist.”

Organisations or groups are being asked to register their interest in attending either the event on August 17th or September 26th. They can do that by emailing wellbeing.service@reading.gov.uk.

Notes to Editors:

Reading Borough Council will host the Narrowing the Gap II Commissioning Framework, but some services will be commissioned jointly by the local authority and by the Reading Clinical Commissioning Groups; and some services will be commissioned outside the Reading boundary.

It is not necessary to attend both sessions, but the content may vary. Anyone who registers an interest in attending either event will receive copies of the material distributed at both.