(Ms. K. Gilliland, Neighbourhood Services Manager, attended in connection with this agenda item.)
The Committee considered the following report:
“1.0 Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues
1.1 The purpose of this paper is to:
· Provide members with an update on the Capacity Building Grant and Revenue Grant for Community Buildings,
· Advise members of timescale and available budgets for micro/medium small grants in 23/24.
2.1 The committee is asked to:
· note the number of applications received and the total funding requested for the Capacity Building Grant and Revenue Grant for Community Buildings as opposed to total budget available.
· note the limited budget available for micro/medium small grants in 23/24 and the impact this might have in relation to what can be funded next financial year.
3.0 Main report
Capacity Building Grant and Revenue Grant for Community Buildings
3.1 Members will recall that at April Committee they approved the implementation of the large grant funding provided through Community Provision for activity from April 2023 – March 2026. The two funding streams are:
Capacity Building Grant
3.2 Designed to support community development organisations, that:
· support other lower capacity or smaller organisations to ensure good practice in governance, application of appropriate policies and financial management,
· advocate the interests of the communities they serve, and
· ensure communities can be engaged to influence or take decisions/ action about issues that matter to them and affect their lives.
Revenue Grants for Community Buildings
3.3 Designed to support organisations which address the needs of their community by delivering a broad-base programme from their building. The building may be used by a geographic based community, or the community may be a community of interest with members from across the whole city.
These grants contribute to the running costs of community buildings in recognition that the community development activity inside allows communities to be engaged to:
· Influence or take decisions about issues that matter to them and affect their lives,
· Define needs, issues and solutions for their community, and
· Take action to help themselves and make a difference.
3.4 The application process for these grants opened on the 30 June 2022 for ten weeks and closed on 9 September 2022. A series of information sessions were held – three on-line via Teams, and two in person at City Hall. A total of 94 organisations attended the sessions.
3.5 There has been a good spread of applications from across the different areas of the city and applications have also been received from organisations representing communities of interest. At the close of the process Council has received the following level of applications:
· 43 applications for the Capacity Building Grant, with total funding requests of:
o £1,852,912.29 in year 1- 2023/24
o £1,850,103.46 in year 2- 2024/25
o £1,871,638.39 in year 3- 2025/26
· 89 applications for the Revenue Grant for Community Buildings, with total funding requests of:
o £1,701,309.74 in year 1- 2023/24
o £1,737,147.73 in year 2- 2024/25
o £1,775,446.36 in year 3- 2025/26
3.6 These requests are in excess of the available budget for both funding programmes. Officers will score applications and provide a further report on the outcome of that process in December 22. In order to support quality applications a quality threshold will be applied in line with other funding programmes and options on allocations will be included in the P&C Committee December paper.
Micro/Medium small grants 23/24
3.7 Applications for a range of council small grants, including micro/medium small grants, will be advertised in Autumn 22 for delivery from April – September 23, through the online funding platform. Members may recall that in 22/23 a significant allocation of £631,360 was taken from the Covid reserve to create a larger budget for micro/medium grants.
3.8 In 23/24 the budget will return to normal levels. This funding budget was previously used to support summer scheme programmes which are a priority for council. Guidance for applicants to the micro/medium grant programme will advise that given budget challenges summer scheme programmes may be prioritized over other activity. In the interim, officers are seeking additional funds in order to be able to enhance the micro/medium grant budget through both internal and external mechanisms.
Currently the projected 23/24 funding available for the micro/medium grants scheme equates to £201,000. Historically, there was an allocation of £170,000 for summer scheme delivery which therefore only leaves £31,000 available for groups to apply for under the broader micro/medium criteria options (NB micro grants are up to £1,500 and medium up to £5,000). The level ringfenced for summer schemes will depend on the number of applications received but members should note the impact on available budgets for broader programmes.
3.10 Capacity and Revenue
Members will be aware that in addition to Council funding a portion of the Department for Communities (DfC) Community Support Programme budget is allocated to provide funding for the Capacity and Revenue grant streams. For 23/24, this allocation is as below:
CSP funding (DfC)
3.11 These funding programmes are both awarded on a 3-year basis. Council is in receipt of a Letter of Offer for 22/23 and 23/24 but officers do not have confirmation that DfC funding will remain as is for 24/25 and 25/26. Awards will be made based on the notional available budget for the 3-year time period, however, members should note that any reduction in the level of Community Support Programme funding in 24/25 or 25/26 could require an increased allocation from council.
Equality or Good Relations Implications
and Rural Needs Assessment
3.12 No issues have been identified at present. Any implications will be considered throughout and highlighted to Members.”
The Members discussed with concern the lack of budget available for the grants and the potential gaps in what could be funded next year, highlighting that this was even more concerning during the current cost of living crisis when small voluntary community groups would rely heavily on such funding streams to provide vital services.
A further Member raised the ongoing issue of those groups who lacked the capacity to successfully avail of funding and discussion ensued as to how they could be assisted. During discussion it was agreed that a report would be submitted to the November meeting looking at potential solutions and that it would also include a breakdown in relation to communities of interest/targeting of section 75 groups.
Another Member raised the issue of the delay in the implementation of the Community Infrastructure Pilots. The Neighbourhood Services Manager confirmed the reason for the delay and advised that the November update report would contain more information in this regard.
· noted the number of applications received, and the total funding requested for the Capacity Building Grant and Revenue Grant for Community Buildings as opposed to total budget available;
· noted the limited budget available for micro/medium small grants in 2023/24 and the impact that this might have in relation to what could be funded next financial year;
· highlighted the previous request for a report to be submitted to the Committee providing an analysis of how capacity and revenue grants had been allocated on a geographic basis previously and identifying capacity issues and potential solutions to this in terms of enhancing/increasing capacity to apply for and be successful in availing of funding. It was agreed that this report would be submitted to the November meeting and that it would also include a further breakdown in relation to communities of interest/targeting of section 75 groups; and
· noted that there had been a delay in the implementation of the Community Infrastructure Pilots meaning that the 2-year funding allocation would need to be reaffirmed and that a more detailed report would be submitted to the November meeting. It was requested that the report should articulate the reason for the delay and detail a plan for implementation at pace, given the issues with capacity.