Voluntary groups across Croydon are to receive an unexpected Christmas present this year - thousands of pounds cut from their annual budgets.

Croydon Council announced it is slashing 10 per cent from next year's budget for voluntary and community support.

The town hall was unable to confirm exactly where the cuts would be made - but said the organisations targeted are likely to be informed by Christmas.

The anticipated saving is around £220,000, which will come from the annual £2.2million budget set aside for voluntary and community sector groups in the borough.

The budget cuts have been announced less than a month after the council's decision to make £16million worth of savings on services affecting children, the disabled and the elderly.

But Croydon Council said services to the most needy and vulnerable were safeguarded.

It is looking for substantial reductions in all areas but rejected proposals for a larger cut of 20 or 50 per cent so that as many existing services as possible could be saved.

Councillor Enley Taylor, cabinet member for community cohesion and customer and organisational services, said: "We greatly value the contribution of these groups and this is reflected in our decision to go for the lowest cost cutting option.

"It's still a tough decision but we have to keep our eyes open and be practical about strengthening the council's overall financial position."

A Croydon mother who regularly uses voluntary groups for her autistic son was furious at the decision.

Anne-Marie Rice said: "We have had clients calling who are so worried about having to pay for their own care. It is affecting people from children all the way through to adulthood and it is worrying us all.

"The support groups and voluntary groups are what get people like my son through and the cuts to people with learning difficulties and special needs are just cruel.

"We nearly lost Croydon Carers Centre in the summer because we just can't afford the rates and if they cut the budgets even more then we just wont be able to afford to stay here."

Coun Taylor added: "The council is determined to continue to support the voluntary and community sector as a valued partner in delivering quality and cost effective services, despite the severe budget constraints we are facing."

The council said the majority of savings would be made through "efficiency measures, alternative funding and targeted savings" - allowing most groups to continue operating.

Stuart Routledge, chief executive for Age Concern Croydon, said: "The cuts are very concerning but I think the council is doing all it can to protect the funding as far as it can.

"When they started out they were talking about making bigger cuts so I do believe they are trying to be supportive of the services."

Coun Taylor concluded: "Once we have brought the overall council budget under control we will be looking to see how we can help increase the role that these important voluntary and community sector organisations can play in the delivery of services to the most needy in the borough."

Council opposition leader Tony Newman said: "I think it is absolutely outrageous as they never indicated anything like this in their manifesto.

"When you stand what they are doing alongside what the national leader David Cameron is saying about what he sees as the importance of the voluntary sector it is unbelievable.

"This is a further piece of absolute hypocrisy from Croydon Tories who are behaving much more like those who were around in the years of Margaret Thatcher.

"I would certainly appeal to those who are concerned to attend the meeting on November 27 to tell the Tories that it is unacceptable. I would urge them even at this late stage to consider the amount of good work that these groups do."

What do you think? Will you be affected by the cuts? Call our newsdesk on 020 8330 9554, write to the address on page 2 or email newsdesk@croydon guardian.co.uk.