Cabinet to decide on £650,000 package of community funding support

14 May 2024

Community funding support of close to £650,000 to support the health and wellbeing of residents across West Suffolk, is to be discussed next week.

Cabinet members at West Suffolk Council will look at changes to its annual grant scheme known at Community Chest, to encourage more small community groups to apply.

Next Tuesday’s Cabinet discussion follow on from the council’s adoption of thriving communities as one of its four strategic priorities late last year.  This priority includes work to ensure residents can access services, benefits and support, as well as enabling residents to improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing through sport, physical and cultural activities. 

Amongst the recommendations, Cabinet will consider changes designed to make the application process easier, as well as renaming the scheme as the Thriving Communities Fund with two levels of grant funding available.

The first – for between £2,000 and £8,000 – would be aimed toward one-off projects that will support residents in a small part of the district such as an estate or village.

The second – between £8,001 and to £20,000 – would be available to fund work to support residents across the whole of West Suffolk or big parts of the district such as a town.

The Thriving Communities Fund would then open to applications in the summer.

The refresh of the grants scheme would look to better promote the availability of all year-round councillor locality budgets as part of the package of funding available to support the health and wellbeing of residents across West Suffolk. Each of the council’s 64 councillors has an annual locality budget of £2,800 to spend supporting initiatives to benefit their residents in their ward area. The minimum amount available for a locality budget grant is £100. 

Cllr Donna Higgins, Cabinet Member for Families and Communities at West Suffolk Council, who will make the recommendations to Cabinet, said: “These changes aim to improve on the range of grants to support initiatives large and small, that will help the health and wellbeing of residents in West Suffolk. 

“It will help communities to better understand that there is funding available throughout the year available through councillors backing work that will benefit the lives of residents in their wards.

“And it will make the annual grant scheme easier for community groups to apply for funds, particularly for those one-off projects that will benefit a smaller number of residents in a particular area such as a village or a housing estate.

“At the same time, we will continue to make funding available to those larger projects such as those run by charities and voluntary organisations to support residents either in a town or across the whole of the district.

“All of this will also contribute to the delivery of our strategic priority for Thriving Communities by helping ensure residents can access services and support as well as activities to improve their health and wellbeing. I look forward to discussing these changes in more detail with my Cabinet colleagues next week.”

Next Tuesday’s discussions could also see Citizen’s Advice West Suffolk offered some certainty over its funding for the next three years. 

For many years, it has had to apply through Community Chest and compete for funding with other good causes with no certainty over what it may be awarded.

Cabinet members are being recommended to approve an annual grant of £200,000 a year for three years for Citizen’s Advice West Suffolk. The money would be towards the organisation’s operational costs which means it could still apply for funds for other significant new developments outside of this.

“West Suffolk recognises the invaluable work of Citizen’s Advice in helping and supporting our residents. That is why I am asking Cabinet to agree a grant agreement that would guarantee them £200,000 a year for the next three years to use toward its operational costs. This would give them the funding certainty it needs while Citizen’s Advice would still be eligible, alongside other community, charity, and voluntary organisations, to apply for funding toward other significant new developments that benefit our residents,” Cllr Higgins said.

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