Agenda item

Issues Raised During the Meeting and Further Information Required.


The Chairman invited members to raise questions in relation to the information provided under agenda items 4 and 5.


Arising from discussion, the following points were raised:


  1. Members highlighted the Council’s financial position and the importance for this to remain a key consideration in determining the future of both grant programmes in 2023/24 and onwards. The value for money achieved through the SHIRE Community and Environment Grants schemes would need to be balanced against the Council’s financial position and it would be important to ensure that the Council continued to provide value for money for residents.


  1. In response to concern that some Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations had relied on the SHIRE Grants for core funding, officers explained that, following feedback from the sector, it had been decided that organisations should be allowed to apply for core funding, and that in the majority of cases this had been used to cover expenses such as salaries, rent and other administrative costs. Core funding had been offered during COVID to help organisations to operate throughout the challenging period. Members noted that, even when grants were awarded in successive years, these were to fund different projects, not to provide ongoing core funding.


  1. Officers explained that where a VCSE organisation had applied for grant funding, they had worked to understand the organisation’s needs before deciding whether a SHIRE grant would be the most appropriate option for them to pursue. Organisations would always be signposted to other sources of funding in the first instance, and it was reported that around 55% of organisations had already received funding from another source. Although the application process was accessible, rigorous scrutiny of the applications was in place to determine whether SHIRE Grant funding should be awarded, particularly in the case of repeat applicants. 


  1. Two members expressed support for the grants and suggested that VCSE organisations would be negatively impacted if the SHIRE Grants ceased. Officers explained that it would be difficult to determine how successful VCSE organisations would be at sourcing funding from other organisations if the Council ceased the SHIRE Grant schemes. VCSE organisations had reported that SHIRE Grant funding provided credibility and leverage when sourcing match funding, and also that grants officers at the Council had been extremely helpful in signposting to other funders as well as assisting with applications. Members noted that smaller organisations may find it more difficult than larger organisations to source alternative funding. Other grant funders and stakeholders, who also provide funding and investment into the VCSE sector, would be invited to the meeting on 15 May 2023 to discuss the impact and value for money of grants programmes and investment into the local VCSE sector.


  1. Some members suggested that there had been a lack of quantitative evidence available in order to determine the impact that the grants had in terms of reducing the number of people accessing Council services, as a result of early interventions delivered by VCSE organisations. The members highlighted the importance for understanding the impact on communities if the grants were reduced or ceased. Officers explained that it would be difficult to produce such quantitative data due to resources available in the team. Members noted that the grants were seen to complement the work of departments but given that they were usually relatively small amounts of money, it was not considered appropriate to undertake analysis of which commissioning gaps they filled. However, officers would review monitoring information available, as well as information on the grant’s application processes, and present this to members at the meeting on 15 May 2023.


  1. Officers acknowledged that well known, credible organisations with a track record of achievement might find it easier to access funding than new organisations. The scheme was often oversubscribed, and organisations were not necessarily awarded the full amount of funding that they had applied for.  It was also noted that grants created a state of reliance, so officers encouraged organisations to identify other sources of income, particularly opportunities for income generation.


  1. Officers explained that they had worked in collaboration with Voluntary Action LeicesterShire (VAL) and that in cases where organisations had not been successful in being awarded with SHIRE grant funding, they had been encouraged to contact VAL for support in sourcing alternative funding. Members noted that VAL would be invited to the meeting on 15 May 2023.






a)    Other grant funders and stakeholders be invited to the meeting on 15 May 2023;


b)    Monitoring information, as well as information on the grant’s application processes, be presented at the meeting on 15 May 2023;


c)    Voluntary Action LeicesterShire be invited to the meeting on 15 May 2023.