camelon, community, funding, Our Place, tamfourhill

Community Choices is back!

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 4 November 2021

It is great news that the Falkirk Council Community Choices funding programme is back for Pilot Phase 2. This is where groups can submit applications for funding that the local public vote on to get the cash.

Here’s the summary info, then I’ll give you a bit more info below: Community Choices aims to help clubs, organisations, community groups, and individuals make their local area fairer, healthier, more connected and more inclusive. It gives you the chance to secure public funding to improve your local area and vote to decide how public money is spent. You can apply for up to £5,000 for smaller projects and over £5,000 to get larger projects off the ground.

Small Grants programme (up to £5,000)
This is open for applications now until 19 November. This is a very quick turnaround for this programme but it’s a much easier process than before. It can fund “revenue” items which is things like activity costs, equipment and supplies. This might include but is not limited to:

  • The purchase of small items of furniture or equipment, for example a shelving unit or disabled toilet seat or fridge
  • Signs and display boards
  • Equipment for a sport activity
  • Supplies and materials to deliver an activity
  • Food and supplies as part of an activity
  • Transport costs to enable people to attend

If you received a grant in phase one and would like to apply again for the same project, you can apply for £5,000 LESS what you got first time round.  However, if it is a new project then you can go for the full amount. It’s important to note a key change from last time round is that if you’re a new group, you must have your constitution and bank account in place before applying.

The public vote for the Small Grants Programme will launch online on 26 November and close on 17 December. Once the votes have been checked and verified, successful bids will be notified on 14 January with the funds being paid out shortly after that date.

Place-Based Capital Programme
This is also open for applications now but has a closing date of 7 January. The close proximity of this date to the festive break has been pointed out so this date may be changed. This is a key factor as quotes for work and information from council departments may be required for your application and of course, many places and staff will not be available over the break. I’ll update you on this as I know more.

The programme can be applied to for projects costing a minimum of £5,000. Proposals should outline a clear vision and ambition for a positive future, and should align to the programme’s aims to make your area fairer, healthier, more connected and more inclusive.

There is a budget allocation for each ward as before, but a key change is that a cap has been put in place for applications to avoid projects taking up the whole ward allocation meaning smaller projects miss out. Here are the numbers:

Ward6 (Camelon)7 (Tamfourhill)
Full Budget£347,090£169,312
Maximum application level (60%) £208,254£101,587

With reference to the 60% maximum application, it has been said that just because you can apply for up to 60%, it does not mean you should as the Council are keen to be able to fund as many projects as possible.  Of course, at the end of the day, it all comes down to the public vote.   

There was a bit of an issue in Phase 1 where projects or organisations that had an impact wider than just one ward could only be voted on by people from an individual ward. Many votes were removed as a result. So this time, a new Falkirk wide category has been added.  There is a total of £200,000 in this pot so the maximum grant for any one project would be £120,000.

The Capital funds programme can be used to invest in resources and facilities for the benefit of the community and must be able to continue to offer public benefit throughout their lifetime. This means that the funds cannot be spent where only an organisation or individual would gain a personal benefit. Capital spend is expected to create something new (an asset) or improve an existing asset such as a structural improvement to a building, for example.

There are 3 main types of capital expenditure:

Building something new – a house, or an office for example. Not all the costs of a new build can be treated as capital but the majority can. The costs of looking after the building after it has been built (revenue costs) are not covered.

Improving an asset – money spent on an existing building, for example, can be called capital if it substantially increases:

  • the useful life of the asset or
  • the market value of the asset or
  • the extent to which the asset can or will be used.

Normal day-to-day running costs – for example, painting rooms, changing carpets, fixing windows – are not capital costs, and are not covered. Money spent on improving other assets, for example a road or a park, may be capital depending on what the money is spent on. For example, re-turfing and planting in an existing park will not be capital spending. However, turning a piece of waste land into a children’s playpark may be capital spending.

Purchasing equipment – money spent on buying, for example, a minibus. The equipment, which should cost more than £5k, should reasonably be expected to last for more than a year. As an example, undertaking repairs in a broken playpark will not be capital spending but buying new equipment may be. However, looking after that equipment in the future will not be capital spending.

Whatever you choose, the deadline as I said is currently 7 January. The vote opens on 24 January and closes on 11 February. Once votes have been checked and verified, successful projects will be notified on 28 February, with funds being paid out shortly after.

No doubt you will have questions about all this so please give me a shout and I’ll guide you through things. You can also request a support session from council staff for the capital programme. If you would benefit from one of these sessions, or if you want to get an application form, you need to email the team on community.choices@falkirk.gov.uk and they’ll be in touch.

This is a great opportunity to get some much needed funding into your organisation and have it endorsed by the local public through their voting. So don’t miss out!

Until next time

Dan Rous,
Community Coach,
07444 873151,
communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk

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