GRANTS from a Worcester charity could be withheld this year because there is not enough cash in the kitty.

Fears that the Hopmarket Charity's funds are running low may mean denying St Barnabas Church in Rainbow Hill cash to create a community centre.

The charity's financial statement for 2000-2001 shows a balance of £1,604 once money is deducted for repairs and for grants already promised to good causes in the city.

"It would be prudent not to make further grants in 2000-2001," said Grahame Lucas, the chief finance officer, in a report prepared for the Hopmarket sub-committee.

City councillors are due to decide on Monday evening whether to follow his advice.

The charity - set up to benefit "needy persons" in Worcester - has set aside £19,000 for roofing repairs in the Hopmarket, in addition to its annual allocation for repairs of £15,000.

"This is a very unusual situation," said Mr Lucas, speaking before the meeting.

"Repairs on the building have cost about £50,000 and another £32,000 is due to be spent on repairing the roofs, although that may not be carried out for another year.

"Maintaining an elderly building is a financial burden and it's a nightmare to put up scaffolding in the Hopmarket because the site is quite constricted."

He said the city councillors acted as trustees for the charity and the organisation could not drawn on council reserves.

If grants are denied in the coming year, it would mean refusing a request for £5,000 from St Barnabas Church, where the congregation wants to refurbish the church hall for community uses at a cost of £125,000.

Grants in the year to April 2000 totalled more than £40,000, including £11,700 for the Worcester branch of the Citizens Advice Bureau, £12,260 for Worcester Play Council and £10,660 for the city's Welfare Rights Centre.