To follow as the consultation does not close till 30 June 2016
5.1 Standing orders were suspended at 21.15.
5.2 James Lee (Head of Culture and Community Development) introduced the report. The following key points were noted:
· Mayor and Cabinet had decided to reduce the Main Grants Programme by £1m from 1 April 2017. A consultation had been organised to identify the best approach to making this saving. The only option supported by the voluntary and community sector was for pro-rata cuts to the awarded grants.
· An open consultation meeting on 1 June had been attended by 60 people from 43 different organisations currently in receipt of grant funding. The suggested approach was broadly supported although there specific issues identified for individual groups.
· There had been requests made for a 6 month notice period for organisation that would lose funding but this would not be possible given when the saving needs to be implemented by. If Mayor and Cabinet agree the suggested approach, all organisations would receive a letter warning them that they may be faced with a 25% reduction in grant funding from 1 April 2017. The ultimate decision of the exact grant to be awarded to each organisation would not be decided till the end of the calendar year.
· A request was made for the Council to employ a specialist to support organisations with fundraising. The Council employs staff to provide this support but their time was spent in evaluating the grants programme and grant applications. The budget for the community section would be reviewed to see if this support could be provided in the short term.
· At least 2 officers have attended a meeting with each organisation in receipt of grant funding to discuss their initial proposals.
5.3 The Committee asked a number of questions. The following key points were noted:
· The performance of grant funded bodies was difficult to assess given the nature of organisations and the work they performed. If a group does not perform, the Council would move to remove their funding. A report had recently been taken to Mayor and Cabinet to remove grant funding from an organisation which was underperforming although through no fault of their own.
· Some targets for mergers have been identified by organisations, although this may not all have happened by 1 April. Officers were talking with organisations about what a 25% reduction in funding would mean for them and how they could adjust. Organisations were also being asked consider whether they could merge with organisation working in a completely different field but in the same area of the borough. Some organisation that did not receive grant funding in the last savings rounds had successfully merged and were doing well.
· The figure of £1m reduction had been agreed by Mayor and Cabinet in September 2015. Officers had been tasked with identifying large sums of money in their areas for savings as the Council had to save a large sum of money overall. The proposal may not be more palatable if the total saving would be £10,000 more or less.
· The equality impact assessments would be presented with the proposals to award of organisations with specific amounts of grant funding for 2017-18. At that stage, Mayor and Cabinet contracts could decide to agree with officer recommendations or award different amounts of funding. Organisations would also be informed about the possibility to go through an appeals process if they wanted to object to the officer recommendations.
5.4 RESOLVED: that the report be noted, and that the Committee receive a further update on the Main Grants Programme 2017-18 in the autumn before decisions are made on the funding allocations for the Main Grants Programme from April 2017 onwards.