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Agenda Item No. 5

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Voluntary Sector Joint Liaison Committee: 8th  February 2017

 

Report of the Managing Director

 

Strong Communities Grant Fund

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To provide the Committee an opportunity to consider proposals for the development of a Strong Communities Grant Fund.

Recommendations

  1. That the Committee note the content of this report in conjunction with the reference from Cabinet of 31st October 2016.
  2. That the Committee review the proposed approach to the development of the Strong Communities Grant Fund in line with the criteria agreed by Cabinet.
  3. That the Committee consider the proposals and refer any comments to Cabinet to inform the decision of Cabinet on the creation of the Strong Communities Grant Fund.
  4. That the Committee receives further updates on the development of the Fund as part of the reporting on the annual work plan associated with the Voluntary Sector Compact.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To provide the Committee with an update on the work underway in relation to the development of a Strong Communities Grant Fund.
  2. To enable the Committee to appraise the proposals in line with the evaluation criteria agreed by Cabinet previously.
  3. To enable the views of the Committee to be considered by Cabinet in reaching a decision.
  4. To enable the Committee to promote and monitor the administration of the "Strong Communities Fund" to support the work of the third sector, Town and Community Councils and other community led groups to support strong communities in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Background

  1. In October 2016, Cabinet approved a series of recommendations regarding grants to community and voluntary organisations.
  2. These recommendations included, as a basis for consultation and further development, that the Small Community Grants and Voluntary Action Scheme Grants be replaced with a new Community Grants Scheme from 2017/18. To enable this to happen in a timely way, Cabinet approved proposals regarding the operation of these schemes for the remainder of 2016/17. Cabinet agreed that proposals should be developed with regard to ways of operating a Community Grants Scheme and that the Voluntary Sector Joint Liaison Committee should consider the matter ahead of a further report being brought to Cabinet for consideration in due course. This report outlines proposals for discussion and development relating to a new Community Grants Scheme, the Strong Communities Grant Fund.

Relevant Issues and Options

Criteria for Review of the Grant System

  1. The October 2016 Cabinet report set out a series of criteria by which to evaluate the operation of any future Community Grants Scheme, to enable it to be consistent with the Council's Reshaping Services programme and associated Effectiveness of Spend project. The criteria are:
  • To ensure any schemes funded from the Council's grant allocations contribute to the Council's priorities, as set out in the Corporate Plan including linkages with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act and the Council's transformational Reshaping Services change programme;
  • To ensure the maximum value is derived from this (and other sources of) funding and decisions are made in a consistent and informed way (i.e. the way the Council's grant funding is approved, administered and spent);
  • To ensure that grant funding can be coordinated with other sources of funding in order to make best use of available funding within the context of decreasing Council finances; and
  • To leverage alternative sources of supplementary funding, including how the third sector, other partners and Council departments can work together.
  1. The Committee is requested to consider the following proposal in light of these criteria and provide its views to Cabinet.

Purpose of the Strong Communities Fund

  1. The purpose of the Strong Communities Fund is to enable community groups, the voluntary sector and Town and Community Councils to apply for revenue and capital funding that promotes initiatives within the Vale of Glamorgan consistent with the Council's vision of "Strong communities with a bright future".
  2. Eligible schemes would include those which are seeking funding to:
  • improve the resilience of organisations/groups or their activities by funding activities which add value to their current work and reduce their reliance on grant funding in the future;
  • provide seed corn funding towards initiatives that can demonstrate longer term sustainability;
  • undertake consultation, feasibility, design and other specialist work to develop proposals for future activity and funding bids;
  • meet the capital costs of schemes by purchasing plant, machinery, equipment or other assets or undertaking maintenance work that would enable viable services to be provided, for example, through increased income generation potential.
  1. Funding towards core costs of an organisation would not be eligible. Funding towards activities that generate funding to cover these costs would be considered. The eligibility criteria would be developed by the Board and publicised to prospective applicants.

Proposed Scope of the Strong Communities Grant Fund

  1. The proposed scope of the Strong Communities Grant Fund would incorporate the following funding streams (shown with indicative individual funding levels for 2017/18):

Small Community Grants Scheme

£100,000

Revenue

Voluntary Action Scheme Grants

Community Action Self Help (CASH) Scheme

£30,000

Capital

Total

£130,000

 
  1. In combining the two current Council schemes, it is proposed that a more co-ordinated approach could be taken to funding in this area. It would also improve the linkages with local communities, via a range of community/voluntary groups and Town and Community Councils. In doing so it is considered that the ability to leverage other sources of funding would also be increased, as proposals would be more consistent and focused as to what they seek to achieve.
  2. In addition to the above, it is proposed that Section106 Community Facilities funding (and where applicable and relevant other Section 106 funding, for example, community transport or public open space) would be added to the Grant Fund and process. The amount of this funding available varies each year as developments complete and the payments are made to the Council. The availability of this funding would be dependent upon both the area of the Vale of Glamorgan in which the development has occurred and the phase of the associated development and any planning requirements associated with it.                
  3. The Voluntary Sector and Council are seeking to review the Compact setting out the relationship and commitment of these two bodies to joint working. The review of grant funding is considered as part of the renewal of the Compact and is a contributory activity to promoting the use of voluntary action in the Vale of Glamorgan.
  4. More information relating to the current arrangements for the operation of these grant funds can be found in the October 2016 report to Cabinet which is referenced in the background papers of this report.

Available Funding

  1. It is proposed that bids would be sought against a total Council annual fund of £130,000, in addition to available Section106 Communities Facilities funding (and where applicable and relevant other Section 106 funding as available and agreed by the Council) and any other sources of external funding. This would comprise:
  • £100,000 revenue
  • £30,000 capital
  • Section106 Community Facilities funding (and, where appropriate, S106 Public Open Space and community transport funding)
  • Any other external funding secured from a third party
  1. It is envisaged that there would be no minimum or maximum value imposed on potential applications. However, bids of a specifically innovative nature would be invited up to a maximum of £1,000 per application. These could, for example, relate to time limited pieces of work on consultation or development work that is required to inform a project or to provide starter funding for potential larger future schemes. This approach would enable the Fund to provide funding to a range of projects in terms of scale throughout the year and the Board will remain cognisant of the need to fund as wide a range of schemes as possible. Proposals which demonstrate they are leveraging other sources of funding (actual or "in-kind") will be encouraged.
  2. It is proposed that the Council would commit to the £130,000 funding per annum for a three year period from 2017/18 in order that any bids approved spanning more than one financial year (or approved mid-way in a year) could continue. It is reiterated that in addition to this committed fund, there will be the potential to link to S106 contributions and potential third party funding.

Eligibility Criteria for Applicants

  1. Bids would be sought from the following categories of organisation:
  • Community led organisations
  • Third Sector Organisations
  • Town and Community Councils
  • Consortia of the above, including those which have established formal governance arrangements such as social enterprises.
  1. It is proposed that a standard definition of each category of applicant would be developed and minimum requirements of those organisations (in terms of status, governance etc.) would be developed, informed by the recent Wales Audit Office review of Third Sector Funding.

Proposed High Level Evaluation Criteria Themes

  1. The evaluation of bids to the fund would be undertaken in line with a series of weighted criteria. The themes upon which these criteria would be developed would include:
  • Linkages being made with the Council's Corporate Plan. This includes the Council's vision for the Vale of Glamorgan area of "Strong Communities with a bright future". Applications would need to be consistent with the Council's values which are open, ambitious, together and proud. Importantly, the proposals would also need to demonstrate their contribution to the Council's Well-being Outcomes and Objectives, which in turn contribute to the national Well-being Goals for Wales.
  • The way in which schemes are consistent with the Council's transformational change programme, Reshaping Services. This programme seeks to reshape the Council to enable it to meet the future needs of citizens of the Vale of Glamorgan within the context of unprecedented financial challenges. The associated strategy has three objectives being: To identify alternative ways of delivering services which provide better outcomes for citizens and/or more efficient means of delivery, to meet future financial challenges while mitigating the impact of cuts on service users and to develop the Council and its partners to ensure they are able to meet future challenges.
  • Showing how the proposals are consistent with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act. In addition to contributing to the Well-being Goals for Wales, proposals will also need to show how schemes are aligned with the Sustainable Development Principle (Doing something "in accordance with the sustainable development principle" means acting in a manner which seeks to ensure that the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs). In doing so, proposals will need to explain how they have considered and embraced the five ways of working introduced by the Act (these are long-term, prevention, integration, collaboration and involvement). More information on the Act can be found here.
  1. The more detailed set of evaluation criteria would be developed by the Board. A scoring matrix would be developed and used by the Board to evaluate bids received and to provide the basis for the allocation of funding.

Governance, Decision Making and Process

  1. The Strong Communities Grant Fund would be coordinated by a Board comprising:
  • Leader of the Council
  • Cabinet Member with responsibility for Regeneration
  • One representative from a Town Council
  • One representative from a Community Council
  • One representative from each of any third party funding partner
  • One representative from the Voluntary Sector
  • One representative from a member organisation of the Public Services Board
  • Two Council officers with experience of regeneration, planning and Section 106 funding.
  1. The Board would be supported by Council Officers in undertaking administration and providing specialist advice and information where required, for example on financial processes and planning matters.
  2. Terms of reference for the Board and its operations would be developed in due course in addition to a standard application form, evaluation criteria and guidance for applicants. It is intended that online applications will be used and a section of the Council's website developed to provide information about the fund.
  3. All existing protocols on consultation relating to Section106 funding will persist.
  4. The Voluntary Sector Joint Liaison Committee (VSJLC) would promote and monitor the administration of the "Strong Communities Fund" to support the work of the third sector, Town and Community Councils and other community groups to support strong communities in the Vale of Glamorgan and would receive an update on the fund's activities as part of the standard reporting against the annual work plan associated with the Voluntary Sector Compact.
  5. The fund's administration would be undertaken in line with the four stage process described below. Applications would be sought three times per annum as per the illustrative timeline below.

Availability

Application

Consultation

Evaluation & Decision

  • S106 funding available as per completion of developments and receipt of payments and following consideration by elected members on applicability to this grant fund
  • Advertising of application window on website (static content for applicants' information)
  • Applicants using a standard application form
  • Where required for S106 and/or other schemes
  • By the Board against the fund's criteria

As required

December - January

February

March

As required

April - May

June

July

As required

August - September

October

November

       

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. The financial implications associated with the development of the Strong Communities Grant Fund are detailed in the report above.
  2. As indicated, it is intended that the Council's direct contribution to the fund will total £130,000 per annum including £100,000 revenue and £30,000 capital. In addition, any sources of Section 106 funding will (where available and agreed by the Council) be included within the fund as well as any other sources of external funding secured.
  3. There are no direct employment implications associated with this report. It is intended that the administration and involvement of Council Officers in the scheme will be met from within existing resources.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. The proposals are consistent with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 which requires the Council to contribute to the national Well-being Goals and to work in line with the sustainable development principle. These proposals seek to develop the Council's approach to the five ways of working which support the sustainable development principle, with a particular focus on the collaboration (with community groups and other organisations) and involvement (of the public in decision making) ways of working. The proposals are also consistent with promoting the Council's corporate plan vision and associated Well-Being outcomes.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. There are no direct legal implications arising from this report. The report to Cabinet in due course will consider the constitutional requirements of operating the scheme as described, including any potential changes to delegations associated with awarding funding.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no direct crime and disorder implications associated with this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. There are no direct equalities implications arising from this report. The scheme will be promoted via the Council's bilingual website. The award criteria and application process will be designed so as to ensure equalities considerations form part of the overall administration of the scheme.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The proposals for the Strong Communities Fund are consistent with the Council's vision as articulated in the Corporate Plan. The proposals will also be evaluated against criteria which will include contribution to the Council's Well-being Outcomes and objectives. Working with the Voluntary Sector, Town and Community Councils and community groups is a key project within the Council's transformational change programme, Reshaping Services.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This is a matter for Executive decision by the Council's Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. This report has been provided to the Committee in order to elicit views to be incorporated into a report to Cabinet in due course. The nature of consultation on individual schemes is illustrated in the content of the report above.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee.

Background Papers

Reshaping Services Programme - Grants to Community and Voluntary Organisations, Cabinet, 31st October 2016

http://www.valeofglamorgan.gov.uk/Documents/_Committee%20Reports/Cabinet/2016/16-10-31/Reports/Reshaping-Services-Programme-Grants-to-Community-and-Voluntary-Organisations-Cabinet-Report.pdf

Contact Officer

Tom Bowring, Operational Manager - Policy & Performance

Officers Consulted

Managing Director

Head of Performance and Development

Head of Finance

Operational Manager - Accountancy

Principal Accountant

Team Leader, Economic Development

Senior Planner (Section 106)

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas, Managing Director