Ward Committee Funding Procedure

Contents

Introduction

Administration and publicity

Grant Aid

Purchase of Work or Services

Decision Making

Payment

Monitoring

Complaints and concerns

 

Ward committee funding - Introduction

1.  Ward committee budgets consist of money allocated to ward committees to spend within the ward. This funding is intended to allow ward committees to respond to issues and opportunities within each ward and there will therefore be differences between wards in what they see as priorities and how they allocate the funding available to them.

2.  There are three main ways in which the ward budget may be used:
a. Administration – money for the cost of the ward committee and other activities – e.g. printing, publicity, room hire etc.
b. Grant aid and ward committee funding – money given to organisations that apply to the ward committee for funding.
c. Purchasing – ward committees may use their budget to purchase goods, works or services to help address local issues and priorities.

3.  Further details of these types of spending and the rules that apply to them are set out below:

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Administration and publicity

4.  The ward budget will be used to fund administration and publicity costs associated with the operation of the ward committee and other activities in the ward supported by the ward committee.

5.  Ward committees must set aside an adequate sum of money to pay for the administration needed to support the committee and its activities. This will include publicity, room hire, and any additional expenses for meetings such as transport or refreshments. This budget will also be used to fund any costs that arise as a result of the ward committee’s activities throughout the year.

6.  The money earmarked for administration may be used to fund activities that support the work of the ward committee, e.g. walkabouts, community forums, public meetings, etc.

7.  If the Committee expect to hold additional informal meetings over and above the annual ward priority setting meeting they must also make provision to pay for any support required for those meetings as well as the direct costs of the meetings such as room hire, publicity and printing.

8.  Money set aside for administration can be can be returned to the ward budget and used for other purposes if it is not needed for administration, similarly additional money can be set aside for this purpose during the year if necessary.

9.  The Communities Team Manager will have delegated authority to make decisions about the use of the money set aside for administration (this authority will normally be exercised on the Team Manager’s behalf by the Communities Officer working in the ward, in consultation with the Chair of the ward committee).

10.  If a ward does not make adequate provision and overspends on administration the shortfall will be taken from the budget (or if necessary from the following year’s budget) before any other commitments are honoured.

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Grant aid

11.  Ward committees may use all, or part, of their budget to fund groups or organisations working in the ward who apply to the ward committee for funding. The grant aid process will be used whenever organisations apply to the ward committee for funding.

12.  Who can apply to ward committees for funding?

Applicant Restrictions
Community and Voluntary Sector Groups   
Not for private profit businesses and social enterprises (e.g. Co-ops and CICs) May apply for funding for specific projects – but not for running costs or funding of day to day activities. 
Council Departments May apply for funding for specific works or projects that are over and above mainstream funded services and which would not be delivered without ward committee funding.
Public Sector Bodies (e.g. YHN, Fire and Rescue Service, Police, Schools, NHS etc.)  May apply for funding for specific works or projects that are over and above mainstream funded services and which would not be delivered without ward committee funding.

13.  Definitions

  • Community and Voluntary Groups are not for profit organisations who are formally constituted.
  • Not for private profit businesses and social enterprises

 Social enterprises should:
o Have a clear social and/or environmental mission set out in their governing documents
o Generate the majority of their income through trade
o Reinvest the majority of their profits
o Be autonomous of state
o Be majority controlled in the interests of the social mission
o Be accountable and transparent

Further detail is included in the guidance for applicants.

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Eligibility and conditions

All grants and funding applications

14.  The following provisions apply to all applications for ward committee funding and will be assessed using the information applicants provide on their application forms.

15.  Projects must deliver a direct benefit to the ward(s) they are applying to.

16.  In addition to considering applications that are submitted, ward committees may invite applications for provision of particular types of projects, for example applications to provide summer activities for young people, or activities to promote healthy eating. When ward committees do this they should decide in advance:

  • The type of projects they are inviting applications for
  • A deadline for applications to be received
  • The criteria for deciding on the applications
  • How decisions will be made, e.g. by a participatory process or by a panel of service users or at a ward committee meeting etc.
  • The maximum amount they intend to allocate for this purpose
  • Any special requirements for applications e.g. questions to be answered or additional information to be provided

17.  If a ward committee invites applications to provide a particular service they should be mindful of the need to be fair and transparent. They should therefore ensure that steps are taken to make potential providers aware of the opportunity to bid and be clear about any criteria that will be used to evaluate applications.

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18.  All projects must have aims and objectives which are compatible with the objectives of ward committee funding and contribute to the delivery of the City Council’s overarching corporate priorities:

• Employment – creating more and better jobs
• Education and Skills – the best learning opportunities for all
• Environment – a clean, green, safe Newcastle
• Health and Social Care – a healthy, caring City
• Housing – building more, and better, homes

19.  In addition to the corporate priorities applicants will be asked to explain if their project contributes to:

  • Ward Priorities – If a ward committee has agreed its own local priorities these will be taken into account by the members in deciding whether to support an application. Details of any agreed ward priorities will be published on the Council’s web site.
  • The priorities for any other funding which is may be allocated via the ward funding process (e.g. Wellbeing Fund). Details of these will be available on the web site and will be included in the guidance for applicants.

20.  Projects must be openly available and accessible to people living in the ward(s). Projects may be targeted at specific groups of people, e.g. women, young people, older people, residents of a particular area, or people having a particular interest but they should be open to any resident who is in the target group and targeting of projects must be consistent with the Council’s Equality Policy.

21.  Applicants must take appropriate steps to inform people in the ward about the project and encourage them to participate.

22.  All projects should be for the benefit of the community and not solely for the benefit of specific individuals.

23.  Applicants must keep receipts and a record of how they spend their grant – this can be recorded on the monitoring form that will be sent to successful applicants with the letter notifying them of the decision on their application.

24.  Applicants must provide all information requested on the ward grant application form, failure to do so will result in delays in processing the application and may result in it being rejected.

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25.  Applicants must be willing to attend the ward committee(s) when their application is considered, if requested to do so, and answer any questions the committee may ask to help it make a decision on their application.

26.  Applicants must agree to abide by the Council’s ward funding terms and conditions and any additional conditions that may be imposed by the ward committee.

27.  Ward committee funding must be spent for the purpose for which it has been awarded. If an applicant wishes to use the money differently, they must obtain permission in advance.

28.  The City Council may require that funding be repaid and may take action to recover any funding awarded if the terms and conditions attached to the award are not complied with or if the money is not used for the purpose for which it was awarded.

29.  Applicants must:

30.  Have a governing document such as a constitution, or memorandum and articles of association or similar.

31.  Have a management committee, or board, or similar governing body that meets on a regular basis (or in the case of smaller organisations have regular general meetings).

32.  Have arrangements in place to manage their finances effectively, including:

  • A bank account in the name of the organisation with at least two unrelated signatories, who do not live at the same address and who are not councillors in the ward(s) applied to.
  • Keeping records of all income and expenditure.
  • Ensuring that accounts are audited on a regular basis in accordance with the rules that apply to the type and size of organisation they are.

33.  Have an equal opportunities statement or policy (or similar).

34.  Confirm that they have practices and procedures for staff and volunteers that comply with relevant legislation, including health and safety, employment law and equalities.

35.  If they work with children or vulnerable adults, have up to date safeguarding procedures in place that are consistent with the multi-agency safeguarding procedures of the Newcastle Safeguarding Adults Board and the Newcastle Safeguarding Children Board to safeguard their welfare., including, if required for the type of activities carried out, arrangements for ensuring staff are vetted.

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36.  If the nature of the activity requires it, ensure that staff and/or volunteers have had the appropriate DBS checks.

37.  Have insurance cover for risks that might arise from the project.

38.  If the project is a public event a risk assessment form must be submitted. If it is a large outdoor event an events checklist must be submitted.

39.  Provide details of the costs of their project including, where appropriate written estimates, quotations, catalogue references etc.

40.  There is not a set maximum grant, any amount can be applied for but the maximum grant that a ward committee can agree is determined by the amount of uncommitted funds they have available in their budget at the time. Individual ward committees may have agreed a maximum amount that they will be prepared to give to any individual application. This does not prevent applications for larger amounts from being considered but may affect the amount of grant the ward committee is prepared to give to a single application.

41.  Applicants may apply to up to four ward committees for funding for any particular project or application. They must be able to demonstrate to each of the ward committees applied to that there is a direct benefit to people in each of the ward(s) applied to.

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Things that cannot be funded

42.  Projects that are solely for the benefit of specific individual(s), projects must deliver benefits to the community in the ward.

43.  Running costs or general costs of business organisations, (whether for profit or not) or public sector organisations. Running costs of community and voluntary organisations can be funded.

44.  Citywide applications – Any particular application can only be made to a maximum of four wards (two wards for small grants). Projects that benefit people across the city are not eligible for ward committee funding simply on the basis that some of the beneficiaries are from a particular ward. The project must be specifically targeted at the ward(s) applied to.

45.  Things that are already funded through mainstream funding. Ward committee funding must be for specific additional projects which are delivered over and above the basic service. The ward committee funding must provide a clearly identifiable benefit that would not otherwise be delivered. This also applies to community and voluntary sector organisations funded by the City Council, e.g. though the Newcastle Fund.

46.  Retrospective applications – Grant aid cannot be given for projects which have already taken place or goods or services which have already been purchased before the application is validated. Any spending by applicants in advance of a decision being taken is entirely at the applicant’s risk and must not be undertaken unless the applicants have sufficient resources to pay for it if their application is unsuccessful.

47.  Projects that promote religion or which involve participation in religious activities as part of the project.

48.  Projects that might reasonably be seen as supporting or promoting a political party or campaign.

49.  Campaigns that seek to change the law or public policy or to persuade people to adopt a particular view on questions of law or public policy. This does not prevent funding of groups seeking to raise awareness of issues, nor does the fact that an organisation runs campaigns using other sources of funding prevent them from receiving ward committee funding, providing that the ward committee funding is not used for this purpose.

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Checking and validation of applications

50.  When applications are submitted officers will check them to ensure that they are eligible for funding and that the form has been properly completed and that all of the required information had been provided.

51.  If an application form is not completed correctly or if information that is required has not been provided officers will contact the applicant to explain what is needed to complete the form correctly. Applications cannot progress beyond this stage until any shortcomings have been rectified.

52.  Once the form has been checked and validated it will be forwarded to the relevant Communities Officer to discuss with the ward committee members and for the members to make a recommendation on the application.

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Purchase of works and services

53.  In addition to responding to funding requests from others ward committees may also use their budgets to purchase works, goods or services to help address local issues and priorities.
 
54.  In using ward budgets to purchase goods and services ward committees must comply with the Council’s Financial Regulations (Part 4F of the Newcastle Charter), which include the Procurement Procedure Rules, and the Council’s Commissioning and Procurement Plan and relevant policies.

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Purchasing from council departments and other public sector agencies

55.  Ward committees must comply with the Council’s procurement policies, which require that where services are available in-house the in-house provider must be invited to tender or negotiate for the provisions of the services.

56.  Works and services will be procured using a quotation process. The ward committee will specify what it wants to buy and request a quotation. The ward committee will then decide whether to accept the quote and proceed. A form and guidance on the process are available.

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Purchasing from private sector providers

57.  If a ward committee wishes to purchase services, that are not available in house, from a private sector provider, the procedures set out in Financial Regulations must be followed. Advice should be sought from the Commissioning and Procurement Section.

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Decision making

58.  In making decisions about ward funding members must comply with the Newcastle Charter. In particular members should be aware of the need to declare any personal or non-participatory interests they may have and where they have a non-participatory interest, withdraw from the meeting or not take part in the delegated decision process.

59.  Decisions may be made at meetings of the ward committee, because the ward committees only meet once a year most decisions are made using the written “delegated decision process”.

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Ward committee meetings

60.  Ward committee meetings are held in public and members of the public in attendance at meetings will normally have the opportunity to ask questions and comment on any applications the committee are considering. Only members of the Committee may vote on decisions.

61.  In making decisions the ward committee will normally have regard to issues such as:

  •  The contribution of the project to the Council’s priorities and to ward and any other relevant priorities.
  • The benefit to people in the ward.
  • Whether they consider the application represents good value for money.
  • The availability of funds, taking into account other commitments or applications the ward committee expect to receive.

62.  Ward committees may request applicants to attend when their applications are considered. If applicants are invited and do not attend applications may be deferred for consideration at a future meeting when the applicant is able to attend.

63.  All decisions made at a ward committee meeting will be recorded in the action points of the meeting.

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Written (Delegated) decisions

64.  “Delegated decisions” are made by the Communities Team Manager or another authorised officer after consulting with the relevant ward councillors. In the event that two or more ward councillors have declared a non-participatory interest or are otherwise not available to consult on the decision the Team Manager will make the decision after consulting with the Cabinet Member with responsibility for communities, or if they are also unavailable or have an interest in the application, with any other Cabinet member.

There are a number of reasons why decisions may be made in this way rather than being taken at a ward committee meeting:

a. If a decision on an application is needed before the next meeting of the ward committee.
b. If it is not possible to hold a quorate meeting of the ward committee, for example because some of the members are away or otherwise unable to attend or if some or all members have had to declare an interest and therefore cannot vote. The rules relating to declaration of interests are set out in Part 5.2A of the Newcastle Charter – Members Code of Conduct. If a member has declared an interest that prevents them from voting on an application they should not comment on or otherwise seek to influence the decision on that application.
c. An application may be deferred at a ward committee meeting to allow additional information to be obtained before a decision is made; this is especially likely if the applicant does not attend the ward committee meeting.

65.  When delegated decisions are made there will be a report back to the ward committee setting out any decisions that have been made since the last meeting.

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Participatory decision making

66.  Ward Committees may decide to involve local people in deciding how part, or all of their ward budget should be used. There are specific techniques available, such as Udecide and Small Sparks, details of these and other participatory techniques can be found in the ward get-together tool kit. Participatory processes may involve local people in various types of decision making, including:

  • Identifying priorities for funding.
  • Identifying needs that the ward committee might fill by purchasing services.
  • Considering grant applications and deciding which ones to fund.
  • Considering potential projects and deciding which ones should be funded.
  • Deciding between offers from potential providers of services.

67. If a ward committee wishes to use participatory methods to make funding decisions they must agree in advance:

  • The amount of money to be allocated in this way.
  • What the money is to be used for – for example a ward committee may wish to carry out a Udecide to decide how money allocated for activities for children and young people should be spent, or how their wellbeing fund money should be spent.
  • Any criteria that will be used in reaching decisions.
  • The nature of the decisions to be made by the participatory process – It is important to be clear, in advance so that people involved in the process understand the process and any limits that apply.

68.  There are two main ways in which a participatory decision making process can be run:

  • The ward committee may give a grant to a third party to be allocated for a particular purpose through a participatory process.
  • The ward committee may carry out a participatory process itself.

69.  If a ward committee carries out a participatory decision-making process itself the final decisions must be made by the ward committee or by delegated decision. The ward committee is not bound to ratify the recommendations from the process and may decide not to do so if the recommendations contravene the law or Council policy, or if the process has not followed the guidelines agreed by the ward committee, e.g. by recommending funding for projects which do not contribute to the objectives it set for the funding. Ward committees should bear in mind that if they do not agree the recommendations from a participatory process it could discredit the process. Ward committees should only reject the recommendations from a participatory project where there are clear-cut reasons to do so, and they should clearly state what those reasons are when they make the decision.

70.  Any money allocated for a participatory process that is not spent will be returned to the ward budget. The ward committee may then use that money as they see fit.

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Notification of decisions

71.  When a decision has been made on an application applicants will be notified in writing.

72.  The notification will set out:

  • The amount of funding awarded
  • Any conditions the ward committee have attached to the funding, over and above the Council’s standard ward committee funding conditions
  • If the application was unsuccessful, the reasons for this
  • If the application was only partially successful, the reasons for this and any decision made by the committee about the use of the funding they agreed
  • The monitoring arrangements and will have a monitoring form attached with an explanation of what is required.

73.  Applicants must agree to accept the standard ward funding terms and conditions when they submit their application. Any additional terms and conditions imposed by the ward committee will be set out in the decision notification. Acceptance of payment will be taken as acceptance of those conditions. If applicants have concerns about any terms and conditions imposed by the ward committee they should contact the Communities Officer immediately and should not spend any of the funding until the outstanding issues have been resolved.

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Payment

74.  Payment of grants or payment for services to external organisations will be by bank transfer, or where arrangements are in place by journal transfer to an appropriate cost code. Use of the money will imply acceptance of the terms and conditions which apply.

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Monitoring

75.  Applicants must agree when they apply for funding that they will abide by the ward funding terms and conditions and any additional conditions agreed by the ward committee. Failure to comply with these terms and conditions may result in legal action being taken to recover the grant.

76.  Monitoring has two main objectives:

  • To measure the project against its initial objectives in order to judge how successful it has been and learn any lessons that may help future projects to be more successful. For this purpose we will use a questionnaire.
  • To confirm that money has been spent for the purposes for which it was allocated. For this reason we will ask for receipts and may ask for bank account details and other evidence to demonstrate how the money has been spent.

77.  The monitoring process depends on the size of the grant.

Monitoring
Amount Monitoring Process
under £500  Monitoring form required only if requested
£501 - £1,000  Monitoring form required - officers to check and file. Monitoring forms may be examined in detail and further information requested if there is cause for concern.
£1,001 - £5,000  Monitoring form required, receipts must be provided for all expenditure – Officers will check a sample of receipts and query any issues
Over £5,001 

Monitoring forms required – officers will review the form in detail and query any issues that arise

78.  Monitoring forms should be completed, if required, and returned within 28 days of the project completion date (as specified in the letter notifying applicants that they have been successful). If a monitoring form is not received by the due date we will send a reminder. Organisations with monitoring forms overdue will not be allowed to apply for any further ward committee funding until they have completed the monitoring requirements to our satisfaction. Organisations who do not return their completed monitoring form after receiving a reminder may face sanctions in the form of being barred from applying for further funding. We may require the grant to be repaid and may take legal action to enforce this.

79.  The public section of completed monitoring forms may be placed on the agendas of the relevant ward committee(s), or published on the council’s web site. Ward Committees may ask organisations to attend a ward committee meeting, or an informal meeting to talk about their projects.

80.  In addition to the standard forms ward committees may also request further information specific to the project or may invite the applicants or providers to attend a meeting to give a report back and answer questions about the project. Ward committees should be mindful of any additional burden this might place on applicants.

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Concerns about the ward committee funding process

81.  There is no appeal against decisions on funding applications but If there are concerns about how the ward committee funding process has been operated these should be raised in the first instance with the relevant Communities Officer or by writing to the Communities Team Manager.

82.  If this does not resolve the issue a formal complaint may be made under the Council’s Corporate Complaints Procedure

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Final Version – Approved on 12 March 2015, revised May 2018

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