The council has launched a public consultation on changes that will allow individual councillors to fund local priorities, including support for delivery by voluntary groups, charities and Town and Parish councils.
As part of the Council Savings Programme, South Gloucestershire Council decided in February to reduce the number of committees, in order to save £220,000 from the cost of administering council decision making.
Part of the changes agreed will see the bringing together of Local Area Forums with Safer Stronger Community groups. Consultation is now taking place on the way in which local ward councillors will individually allocate a share of the grants funding which was previously distributed through the Local Area Forums. The new model is known as Member Awarded Funding (MAF).
The consultation is about the way the funding – worth £280,000 in 2016/17 – is allocated, not the amount available to be spent on local projects. The full details of the consultation process, the options being considered and how you can take part, are available online at www.southglos.gov.uk/consultation. Details are also available at our One Stop Shops and South Gloucestershire libraries.
The consultation enables affected groups and organisations to have a say on the way in which this new scheme will operate. The proposals in the consultation are designed to ensure the new scheme meets the Council’s legal obligations, and that it provides transparency and clarity for local groups. Those responding to the consultation are also being asked to describe any additional ideas for consideration by the council before a final decision is made later this year. This consultation is open from 21 April 2016 until 15 July 2016.
Key elements of the proposals are:
· All South Gloucestershire Councillors will be allocated an equal amount of Member Awarded Funding annually, to be determined by each annual council budget.
· Members will have the option of individually awarding all their annual funding to a single organisation, or dividing it amongst a number of agencies.
· Members will be able to combine their individual fund with other Councillors at their discretion in order to provide greater support to a particular scheme in a given year.
· Member Awarded Funding may be used in the following ways:
o To provide a non-recurrent, locally-focussed boost to a particular council service (i.e. to top up service provision in a year) or to support services funded by other public bodies;
o As a contribution to, or as match funding for, local projects; or
o As a non-recurring grant to voluntary, community or social enterprise (VCSE) groups or town and parish councils to deliver particular work locally.
In order to ensure decisions are legal and transparent, the new system will make the application process as simple and proportionate as possible. To help councillors and the public have confidence that only appropriate projects and groups receive funding, a list of “pre-approved” VCSE groups who meet the grants registration requirements of financial stability, governance, compliance and with statutory policies for equalities and safeguarding, will be maintained. If members wish to allocate funding to a group who have not registered and received approval, the award will not be paid until the registration requirements have been met by the group.
Additionally, information on money awarded by each Councillor (date of award; who it has been awarded to; purpose) would be published on the Council’s website in order to meet its legal obligations under the Local Government Transparency Code 2014.