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Councillor cash still there to help South Kesteven good causes

Good causes could be missing out on funding under South Kesteven District
Council’s Ward Member Grants Scheme.

Launched earlier this year, the scheme gave each of South Kesteven’s 56 councillors £1,000 to spend on community projects in their ward.

However, councillors at Tuesday’s meeting of communities and wellbeing overview and scrutiny committee heard just £17,900 has been spent to date, with 23 councillors yet to submit an application on behalf of their ward.

Applications are invited from registered charities, community groups, voluntary groups, youth groups/organisations, social enterprise groups and faith or belief-based groups.

Richard Wyles, assistant director of resources, explained the scheme was set up following a review of the council’s community grants scheme and was aimed at smaller projects.

However, he warned the administration process was cumbersome for small amounts, often involving less than £100, which would pass through eight council officers before approval.

To reduce the administrative burden members agreed that just the one particular council officer would be needed to give approval, helped by spot checks from one other councillor or officer.

Labour member Phil Dilks called for better information in the next officer report on the scheme, including examples of how the money has been spent and how it has made a difference.

“I have had one member ask ‘what on earth are we going to do with this money. I have no idea.’ If we had a list, it might encourage members.”

However, he expected more applications to come in, believing tall the £56,000 will be spent.

Coun Dilks also said he hoped the council would continue the grant scheme’s one year trail into next year.

Coun Linda Wootten said she had used some of her grant money to help a nursery in her ward.

Bourne West independent Helen Powell agreed many people did not know of the scheme but she said it has advantages.

“I have found many people, like charities delivering dinners need support. This grant is so important to us. They know us. They can reach us and contact us. I think it’s important that this money gets to every corner of the district which is why I like it.”

Coun Dilks added that only other grant bids, the applicant does not have to fill in a long form, their councillor does it for them.

The meeting recommended cabinet continue the scheme next year and any money that is unspent goes into SKDC’s community grants scheme.

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