Community groups to be able to bid to Lancashire county councillors for grants of between £100 and £2,000

Lancashire county councillors are each to be given £2,000 per year to distribute to community groups in the areas they represent.
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County Hall will reintroduce its local member grant scheme in January - five years after a similar initiative was scrapped.

The cash can be allocated at a councillor’s discretion to not-for-profit organisations in the voluntary, faith and community sectors.

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A meeting of Lancashire County Council’s cabinet was told that the intention was to support smaller groups “looking for relatively small sums of money to support their valuable work”.

A small grant scheme for community groups has been reintroduced by Lancashire County CouncilA small grant scheme for community groups has been reintroduced by Lancashire County Council
A small grant scheme for community groups has been reintroduced by Lancashire County Council

Grants from a minimum of £100 up to the full £2,000 annual allocation can be made by the authority’s 84 members.

Conservative cabinet member for health and wellbeing Michael Green said that the value of the scheme lay in giving small-scale organisations access to the financial support that they may otherwise struggle to secure.

“Some of them can be small groups just operating around someone’s kitchen table, but doing a tremendous amount of good work in a particular community,” he explained.

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Labour opposition group leader Azhar Ali also welcomed the move, but warned that councillors were likely to be “inundated with requests” - and could end up leaving “a lot of people very unhappy”.

Council leader Phillippa Williamson said that it would be important to manage the flow of applications - and papers presented to the meeting at which the revived scheme was approved. revealed that an officer would be employed to help administer it.

The £2,000 will be made available at the start of each financial year in April. For the period from January - when the initiative is reintroduced - through to April next year, a pro-rata £500 will be issued to each member.

Under the rules of the scheme, groups will be able to apply for multiple grants per year, but only once for each project. Groups can also apply to more than one councillor provided the project benefits the area of each councillor to whom an application is submitted.

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Political and religious activity is not eligible to be funded, but political and religious groups will be able to apply for funding for other community activities.

County Cllr Cosima Towneley, cabinet member for children and families, said that care must be taken to ensure that the grants system was not “brought into disrepute”.

“We need to be quite clear that where councillors...are involved with the recipients of these grants, that that [fact] is made very clear - and that’s whether they are family members or members of groups,” she said.

However, Labour deputy opposition leader Lorraine Beavers said that members should not be precluded from issuing grants to groups simply because they sat on their committees or volunteered for them.