Agenda item

Community Grants and Community Updates

To consider the report of the Communities Programme Manager.



The Programme Manager Communities presented the report providing the following updates on community issues:-


Community Grants


The City Council had an extensive Community Grants Programme with around £1.5 million awarded annually to community organisations through a range of grant processes. A breakdown of the grants was provided and Members were advised of the intention in 2018 to review the city council policy, system and process in order to consolidate the programmes and revise criteria to link to council priorities. One Member queried how information on the grant process was filtered through to the community and it was generally recognised that a simplification of the grants process would be beneficial because of the varying grant application processes.


A further report on process and recommendations would be submitted at a later date.


Community builders


Council on 25 July 2017 had agreed £610,000 over five years (£300k New Homes Bonus (£300k) and £310k from neighbourhood portion of Community Infra-Structure Levy: CIL) to fund Community Builders across the City .This would build on the existing community builder roles funded through the Integrated Care Exeter (ICE) Wellbeing Exeter programme until March 2018.  Because of the expansion of Wellbeing Exeter and the Sport England Local Delivery Pilot status, it was proposed to expand community building so that all wards would have access to a community connector and community builder. It was proposed that funding be front-loaded in light of the Wellbeing Exeter and Sport England programmes for a three year period in the first instance: 2018/2020. Anecdotal feedback indicated that the community builders could have a real impact on improving people’s lives and supporting the local community.


Responding to a Member, the Programme Manager advised that documentation such as evaluation reports on the community builders could be made available to Members on request and the Community builders could also be requested to provide feedback on their work at a ward level. Members were encouraged to have good contact with their local community builder.


Delegated powers had been given to the Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing, Communities and Sport and the Programme Manager to agree adjustments to the original plans for the deployment of Community Builders and for them to do this in consultation with the Chair of the Exeter Community Forum.


Grass Roots Grants/Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy


The Council received recommendations from the Exeter Community Forum (ECF) Grass Roots Grants Panel on expenditure for the neighbourhood portion of the Community Infra-Structure Levy (CIL) (£3.75 million over 10 years ring-fenced for community led initiatives) The Grass Roots Grants criteria included a number of programmes contributing towards the goals of the ECF Community Strategy endorsed by the Council.


To date, eight organisations had been awarded a grant through the Grass Roots Grants process totaling £167,913. It was noted that the Portfolio Holder for Health, Wellbeing, Communities and Sports represented the Council on the grants panel.


Exeter : A young people friendly city - Exeter Youth Voice.


The City Council was taking the lead co-ordination role for this next stage of developing a Youth Strategy for the city and had recently contracted Young Devon to facilitate the ‘Exeter Youth Voice’ initiative with young people across the city over the next 12 months. This work would build on the consultation that had taken place with young people during 2016/17 resulting in the launch of the Youth Strategy in March 2017. The project would be delivered through a steering group including Exeter City Council Communications and Marketing Team who would be supporting the process and helping to profile the views of young people. Members were re-assured that the project had and would continue to engage with Black and Minority Ethnic young people through the process of the project.


Members queried the level of Member involvement in the work of the Exeter Community Forum notably the grant making process where a significant level of funding had been made available. Some concern was expressed at the level of democratic accountability and transparency in the operation of the Grass Roots Grants Panel and it was suggested that a cross party, Member led body would be more appropriate to provide greater accountability and community leadership. Because of the significant level of funding, a Member felt that greater scrutinisation of the decisions was required and he and another Member referred to play equipment in particular as one area where funds could be better directed.


The Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing, Communities and Sport acknowledged the complexity of the grant making process and advised that the rationale behind this community work was greater synergy and extended community involvement and that reviewing the grant making process which Executive would now be asked to support was a logical step in this process. He also felt that a further briefing session for Members would be appropriate following the review of grants.

Scrutiny Committee – People supported the report and asked Executive to request Council to:-


(1)        approve the recommendation to review the grant allocation policy and process in 2018 to consider modernisation and consolidation of the grant programmes and revised criteria linked to council priorities;


(2)        approve the recommendation that the Neighbourhood CIL and New Homes Bonus funding agreed for community building in the city should be front-loaded in light of the Wellbeing Exeter and Sports England Local Delivery Pilot programmes for an initial 3 year period 2018 / 2020;


(3)        notes the progress of the Grass Roots Grants/Neighbourhood CIL spend over the first year of this funding being available and recognizes the contribution of the Exeter Community Forum Grass Roots Panel in supporting this process;


(4)        note the 2nd stage of the Exeter Youth Strategy work in terms of the launch of the Exeter Youth Voice project; and


(5)        review the role of the Exeter Community Forum Grants Panel and to consider whether there was a need for greater accountability and scrutinisation of its processes and to examine if a change of approach through increasing the involvement of Members was desirable.


Supporting documents: