27th April Finance & Resources Committee Report Item 5.3

Report for councillors: Changes to the grants budget for April
Issued to: Finance & Resources Committee Meeting 27/04/2020

Purpose of Report
To confirm the changes that have been agreed to the grants budget in order to support community projects affected by Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Background

At the extraordinary meeting on 23rd March, conducted remotely, it was agreed by min ref: 48/20/TC that:
The Town Clerk, in consultation with the Chairman of Council and Chairman of the Finance & Resources Committee, may incur expenditure from the grants earmarked reserve where such expenditure will help the community’s efforts to support those in need of assistance or prevent social isolation.

On 2nd April I emailed all councillors for comments on the proposed change of use for the grants budget, as below. I received email responses in support of the proposed action, and confirmed that Cllr Andy Brewer, Council Chairman, & Cllr Mike Facey, Finance & Resources Committee Chairman, were in agreement that the changes should be implemented.

Applications to grants budget
The RFO, Sally Jones, has received requests from groups in the community asking if they can apply for the usual grant funding, some for non-CV-19 projects.

In light of the current situation and according to the above resolution, my 2nd April email suggested we put the usual applications process on hold and use the grant fund to address the needs of groups working directly to combat CV-19. It was noted that it’s early days so we don’t know what the need will be, or even if there will be much call on the fund. I suggested we revisit the availability of funds in, say, 3 months when we will hopefully have a better idea of need/financial availability. Non-CV 19 groups might then be able to apply for the usual funding, through the usual process in the September grants meeting.

The RFO and I agreed on the use of revised online application form(s) that allow a rapid completion and response, but still cover the information we are required to request.

The applications invite requests for small grants of less than £500 and larger grants to £2,000. It was agreed that we must set values to both spread the benefit and still make the value significantly useful.

On agreement from councillors, this revised grant fund was publicised on the Council website, with two application forms; one requiring more detailed than the other to reflect the increased amounts. The application for small grants is less involved than that for larger grants.

All applications received will be initially assessed by Sally, RFO, to ensure they meet the criteria, then they will come to me so I can seek all councillors’ input. However, as speed of response is important, I will not chase comments that aren’t forthcoming and will primarily seek agreement of the Chairman of Council and the Chairman of the Finance & Resources Committee, as per the delegation 48/20/TC.

Financial implications
£27,300 Grants budget available after pre-existing commitments
4761 107 Budget Code

Policy implications

Scheme of delegation amended by min ref: 48/20/TC

  • Corporate Pillar 1: Engagement, Visibility and Transparency

1.2 Providing strong, clear and responsible leadership at councillor and council officer level & 1.4 Ensure responsible financial management and clear direction in all aspects of the Council’s responsibilities.

  • Corporate pillar 2: Culture and Community

2.3 Providing financial support to community events and organisations

Options/Recommendations

It is requested that the Committee formally acknowledges that the changes have been carried out correctly under the officer delegation, and that the Committee agrees to continue with the revised grant process over this period whilst the community faces Coronavirus.

Report author: Sam Winter, Town Clerk

Report Date: 7th April 2020

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