Voluntary organisations and charities providing support for elderly and vulnerable people and their carers will benefit from over £1.4 million in grants for 2013/14 from Hampshire County Council.
More than one in five (22%) of the grants will fund projects that did not receive funding last year - a significant proportion of which is to support people with autism, in line with the County Council's new Autism Strategy launched in September 2012.
Grants are awarded to help services that are better provided by the voluntary sector and meet Adult Services' aims and objectives, as well as through consultation with Hampshire residents. These aims and objectives include early intervention and prevention, protecting vulnerable people and maximising independence.
The grants were approved by Councillor Felicity Hindson, Executive Member for Adult Social Care at her Decision Day meeting on 25 January.
Cllr Hindson said: "With the continuing challenges of the economic climate, it is good news that we are to able to continue supporting a wide range of voluntary and community organisations and charities giving grants alongside the contracted services they provide in the community. We recognise the value of services delivered by these organisations and have not reduced the amount of support we give them, as the grants not only make a real difference to the community by keeping people independent for as long as possible, they also help maintain stability in the voluntary sector.
"Volunteers also have an increasingly important role in the support provided to their local community. In 2013/14 our Adult Services grants programme could potentially involve up to 5,300 volunteers and provide extra benefits worth £1.7 million in salary costs, based on one volunteer offering an hour a week for a year, at a national minimum wage rate of £6.19.
"This year there has been considerable pressure on the grants programme budget, which has been oversubscribed. We are funding projects that are most closely linked to our aims and objectives but we have also considered how to help people who may have difficulty accessing mainstream services, including a project to support people from the gypsy and traveller community."
The distribution of grants has been broken down as follows:
The total amount being awarded is £1,422,228. An additional £100,000 per year for three years will be given to Southampton Centre for Independent Living, a user led organisation that will take the lead in Hampshire to help develop and provide infrastructure to other user led organisations.