Unfortunately the decision has very little to do with economic sense however, and a lot to do with politics. Meanwhile at Babergh the council is trying hard to use scarce resources efficiently.
On Monday evening I attended a consultation exercise at which Council representatives discussed with people from different voluntary organisations how they are proposing to reorganise the way they give out grants. The Council gives £500,000 a year in revenue grants to outside bodies plus a little over £100,000 a year in capital grants. This seems a lot, but in contrast to funding for unnecessary new councils, in the absence of a politically unacceptable rise in Council Tax, funding for local causes is unlikely to grow in real terms in future years. (Yet again one has to question Central Government’s priorities!)
At present these grants are administered by no fewer than 13 different departments. The idea is to pool these funds and reduce the number of programmes to three (Community Grants, Core Grants, and Rate Relief and support). These will be centrally organised under the auspices of a Grant Officer, which should result in efficiency savings at the Council, and also lead to a policy in this area more firmly rooted in the corporate priorities of the Council. Importantly the department which administers the money will also give charities etc. advice on other sources of funding that they can tap
The new scheme does mean that all existing programmes will be discontinued, and all existing grant aided organisations will have to re-apply.
There were sixty or so people at the consultation on Monday, many of whom were wearing at least two hats. If you are involved with an organisation which receives, or hopes to receive a grant from Babergh, you should be aware of the changes, which are due to be debated by the Council in September and October. Look out for information about the ‘Meet the Funders’ event that is to be held in November.