The Community Development and Equalities Manager presented the report explaining Thurrock’s Voluntary Sector Corporate Grants Programme was an established and recognised source of funding for key, strategic voluntary sector partners supporting communities in Thurrock. Members heard the current programme was due to end on 31 March 2018.
It was highlighted that in 2016/17 the programme, totalling just over £300,000, levered in a further £1.4million into Thurrock as a result of external and match funding. Officers further explained the report considered the process for administering the grants programme from March 2018 and sought comments on the proposal to continue the agreement for Thurrock CVS to administer the programme and maintain the existing split of funding 80% for existing groups and 20% for new groups.
The Chair of the Committee commented that the total funding was £342,425, however there was £316,080 ring fenced. The Community Development and Equalities Manager explained that funding had been reduced and was smaller than previously awarded. She continued to explain that the figure £342,425 took into account if the CAT budget was to move.
It was queried if feedback was received from organisations who received funding as to how their areas of operation might be affected. The organisations were concerned about the potential impact however they welcomed the opportunity to have set amounts for three years, which allowed for more long-term planning. This ability was also more attractive to external funders. There would be collaborative working with the sector to increase funding moving forward for new initiatives.
Councillor Gerrish raised concern should there be funding reductions to voluntary organisations and the impacts this could potentially have. Officers assured Members that discussions around funding risk were had with all voluntary organisations receiving funding. It was confirmed that should reductions in funding be required, early engagement would be taken at least 3 months before any impact would be caused. Officers assured the Committee that processes were in place for any such situation.
During discussions Councillor Maney sought to know who was monitoring the use of funding, as the organisations were not accountable to the Council. The Community Development and Equalities Manager notified members that the Council collected information from voluntary organisations seeking funding as to what the money would be used for, however it was the panel who had the overall discretion as to who funds were awarded to.
Councillor Gamester queried whether there was any monitoring in place regarding the moneys awarded in proportion to the number of service users. Agreements around funding began with requests from organisations as to their requirements, so the individual organisations were responsible for outlining their funding requirements and each business model would be very different.
RESOLVED that the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee:
1. Commented on the proposal to continue the administration of the Voluntary Sector Corporate Grants Programme with Thurrock CVS from April 2018 – March 2021 with the option to extend by one year if required; and
2. Commented on the proposed process and criteria set out in Section 3.