Strathcarron Hospice hit by funding headaches

Strathcarron Hospice is finding cash hard to come by
Strathcarron Hospice is finding cash hard to come by
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The chief executive of Strathcarron Hospice says the charity is unable to introduce new services due to a funding squeeze as a result of the recession.

Struggling charities across the country are facing up to financial pressures from the UK Government austerity measures and a drop in donations and could lose as much as £200 million in public support from Holyrood over the next four years.

Strathcarron has an annual operating budget of £5.3 million, £2 million of which is paid by NHS Forth Valley and NHS Lanarkshire, who themselves have been forced to make cuts.

The charity, which needs to raise £67,000 a week to keep its head above water, ran with a deficit of £100,000 last year.

Boss Irene McKie told The Falkirk Herald of the challenges the organisation is facing in the current economic climate.

She said: “Money is much tighter, so much more in the last couple of years and this year especially.

“We agreed in 2003 that the NHS should fund 50 per cent of our costs and we would raise the rest, but it has been more like 38 per cent and there is discussion as to what agreed costs actually are.

“If we had the 50 per cent we wouldn’t have a deficit. We certainly haven’t cut services, but it means we can’t develop new ones.

“There have been other problems during the recession. People are watching their money and it’s been harder to get people to fundraising events.

“There are also recycling centres where people have been taking their old clothes instead of giving to charity shops and that affects income as well.

“We are lucky that we don’t rely on more than one source of funding but each year that has slipped a little.”

NHS Forth Valley said that, like other health boards it is facing “significant” financial challenges, but insists the funding plan with Strathcarron has not been cut or reduced in any way.

A spokeswoman said: “In addition to the financial contribution we made, we also provide a number of services to the hospice without charge. These include payroll and pharmacy services. We have also jointly funded a number of service developments including a new consultant post.

“We are fully committed to working with the hospice and to exploring how we can continue to support the vital services they provide.”

Skint Falkirk Council has also been forced to chop just under £200,000 from its funding to its external organisations budget to help balance the books this year. This includes money for essential and priority projects such as the Priness Royal Trust for Carers, Women’s Aid and Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

John Downie, director of public affairs at Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, said: “What we’ve seen is local authorities reacting to these cuts and taking services back in-house. Organisations need to diversify in order to raise more funding. That is the big challenge facing a generation now.”