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Milton Keynes Racial Equality Council

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 8 May 2008

16. What funding the Government provided to Milton Keynes racial equality council in each of the last two financial years.[Official Report, 5 June 2008, Vol. 476, c. 11MC.] (204060)

Milton Keynes racial equality council received around £50,000 of Government funding in 2006-07 and around £60,000 in 2007-08. That represents 28 per cent. of the total amount received by all racial equality councils in the country during those years. In addition, Milton Keynes racial equality council received a grant of £45,000 from the Commission for Racial Equality in 2006-07 and another of £42,000 in 2007-08.

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. I know that she values the work of Milton Keynes racial equality council as much as I do. However, she did not mention that this year that grant has been cut from £42,000 to zero, so there will be no money this year. That is having a major impact on the council’s work in Milton Keynes. Is the Minister prepared to meet a delegation from Milton Keynes to discuss the impact that the cut is having and to see what can be done in future? I hope that the hon. Member for Milton Keynes, South-West (Dr. Starkey) will join that delegation and come and see her to discuss the matter.

As the hon. Gentleman knows, Milton Keynes racial equality council has got £60,027 from central Government, but I agree that its funding from the Equality and Human Rights Commission has been cut this year. That is because the commission awarded £10.9 million to successful applicants in its first grants this April. That was a competitive process because, as usual, the numbers of applicants exceeded the amount of money available, and entries were rigorously assessed. Milton Keynes REC can apply again later this year for the 2009-10 programme. However, Milton Keynes council has received £105 million from the Government office for the east midlands extremism fund. The allocation of those funds is obviously a matter for the local authority, but it might be wise if Milton Keynes REC approaches it. I would be very happy to meet the hon. Gentleman.

Milton Keynes racial equality council has already had a meeting with Milton Keynes council, so I hope that the option of the prevention of terrorism fund has already been explored. However, there is an issue about how the EHRC has allocated grants, and I wonder whether the Minister might put pressure on it to work with Milton Keynes REC to ensure that the grant application that it puts in next year is better attuned to the criteria used by the EHRC than it appears to have been this year.

I thank my hon. Friend for that considered question. The EHRC is an independent body, but I will speak to its chair, Trevor Phillips. On this occasion, the grants had to come up to a very rigorous set of requirements, and unfortunately Milton Keynes did not quite make it. I will talk to the EHRC about the help that it could give to Milton Keynes, but I also suggest that both Members of Parliament ask their local authority to give help, as I know that my own local authority has set up a grants adviser because this has become an area where expertise is needed.