A COMMUNITY centre that provides vital services to some of Redditch's most disadvantaged people is under threat.

REACH CIC provides the only community venue in Winyates and the services that are provided include financial and benefits advice, help and assistance to those in need, advocacy, a safe place to meet or seek support and a home for groups from the local area.

However, Redditch Council is looking to stop the rent reduction that REACH and other voluntary organisations in the town get - meaning it could face closure.

Liz Williams, from REACH CIC, said: "The effect of the council stopping this reduction on all voluntary organisations renting council properties could be huge.

"It would increase REACH’s rent bills by £8,000 per year. We simply can’t afford this.

"In other words, we would have to close and every service and group, all the help and advice, the support and just being here, will end."

REACH (Redditch East Aspiring Communities Hub) CIC grew out of the Winning Winyates Project that was funded by Worcestershire County Council from 2010 to 2015.

Like many projects across the country the funding ended in June 2015.

Those responsible decided to take a leap of faith and set up REACH CIC.

Liz added: "By stopping this rent reduction the council is taking services away from those who need it most.

"The services that the voluntary organisations in this town provide, not just REACH, are immense. And if we're not here, who is going to do it?

"This will have a devastating impact on the most disadvantaged people. It is an assault on vulnerable people in Redditch."

Funding cuts across the public sector have meant an ever-increasing reliance on organisations such as REACH CIC to fill the gaps left in provision.

Cllr David Thain, whose portfolio covers corporate management, said: “In August we were upfront and honest about the difficult decisions which we would have to make.

"The council is facing a very challenging financial position and we must consider all of our costs.

“These moves, if approved, are by no means a quick win as it will cost the Council £70,000 for the two years as we offer transitional support to the organisations involved, who can, after that time, remain at the premises but at full market rent.

“We continue to offer support to the VCS sector. The organisations may get reduced business rates and we are about to launch our Redditch Community Lottery which will benefit good causes – and our residents."

Council leader Matt Dormer added: “While these recommendations have to go through the decision making process including, executive and full council, we do have to be realistic and operate more commercially if we are to make this council sustainable and avoid cutting front line services.”