A decision to axe a £1.4 million funding package for 13 voluntary organisations, including the Citizens Advice Bureau, was unlawful, a High Court Judge has ruled.
Mr Justice Blake said a Birmingham City Council decision to stop giving money to groups such as the Citizens Advice Bureau was “clearly defective” and that councillors appeared not to understand their obligations under the Race Relations Act, Sex Discrimination Act and Disability Discrimination Act.
Council leaders failed to take proper account of the impact that withdrawing grants would have on disabled and vulnerable people, the judge added.
No consultation was carried out with people who would suffer because of the funding cuts, neither did the cabinet consider other ways of helping the organisations to identify alternative funding.
Although council officers drew up an Equality Impact Needs Assessment it was defective and did not address the real issues, the judge said.
Mr Justice Blake allowed a judicial review by users of the three of the affected organisations – the Birmingham Tribunal Unit, the Chinese Community Centre and St James’s Advice Centre – and ordered the council to continue to pay them a total of £25,000 a month until the cabinet can reconsider the matter and reach a lawful decision based on effective consultation.
In reality, the decision means that the three bodies will continue to receive council cash at least until June.
The judge was critical of the cabinet’s decision to cut funding from this March, when a commissioning process to approve a new grant regime would not be completed until July, leaving a four-month gap when the 13 groups would receive no money at all from the council.