Exmouth charity could break ranks

AN Exmouth charity lifeline for pensioners could break ranks and become the only Devon branch not to sign up to a London-based ‘franchise’ because of fears they will lose vital services.

Charities, Age Concern England and Help the Aged, are joining forces to become Age UK in March 2011 - and are inviting branches from around the UK join them in a Brand Partnership Agreement.

Currently Exmouth Age Concern sets its own policy and raises its own cash and while a final decision has yet to be made Steve Dace, chief officer of the Exmouth branch, fears losing their independence.

He is concerned that such a ‘highly prescribed’ agreement would lead them losing their ability to make local decisions for local people.

He said: “Although Age Concern Exmouth cannot prove that is the case, AGE UK has not proved it is not the case.

“What is it that Age Concern Exmouth will not be able to do that it has not already done so for the past 30 years and which now requires it to have such a centralised relationship with a London-based national charity?”

Mr Dace said that centralisation could put their fundraising in jeopardy by putting off Exmouth’s benefactors off by giving them the impression they would be giving their cash to a national charity and not a local one.

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The deal also offers Age Concern Exmouth a �5,000 ‘incentive’ payment, but Mr Dace added: “It is important that local money collected is used for the benefit of local people.

“With the �5,000 incentive being reduced by the need to pay to fulfil various changes imposed by the agreement, it is felt there is no significant financial advantage to be gained…

“And there appears to be no obvious advantage in it for the people in Exmouth who rely on our services either.

“We do not believe Age UK has demonstrated any tangible benefit to the possible partnership and the possible threats to the range and quality of services might provide outweigh any conceivable benefit.

“Local Age Concerns are better placed to assess local needs.”

If you have any concerns or views write into the Journal or contact Steve on: (01395) 271242.