Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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Cabinet Decision: 14th February 2008
Title of Item/Report
Voluntary Sector Support Fund 2008/9 Funding Allocations
Record of the Decision
Members were presented with a report relating to the Voluntary Sector Support Fund 2008/09 funding allocations.

It was explained that the financial year 2007/8 was the last year of a three-year funding agreement for the 11 organisations that had benefited from the Voluntary Sector Support Fund. During 2006/7 and 2007/8 the 11 organisations had had the additional benefit of a top-up of resources in addition to the Council's own VCSF from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund (NRF) to the sum of 120,000 (during 2008/9). The VCSF and NRF had been combined and given to grant recipients as one payment. It was advised that the allocation of Neighbourhood Renewal Funding ran out on 31st March 2008. It was clear that NRF would not be directly replaced however, a new regime The Working Neighbourhood Fund (WNF) was to be introduced. Discussions on the priorities for WNF in Stockton were underway. This being the case and in order for the core funded organisations to receive as much notification as possible the worst-case scenario of all organisations bearing a reduction in funding had been openly discussed.

Members were advised that Core Funding Agreements (CFA) were in place with the 11 core funded organisations. The Core Funding Agreements were renegotiated during February and March 2007 to provide more focus, greater clarity and to make them more measurable. During the renegotiation of the CFA the pressure from the likely withdrawal of NRF was discussed with all recipients. The individual targets for the organisations benefiting from core funding were presented to Members. Monitoring returns were duly submitted in September/October demonstrating achievements for all the organisations without exception.

It was reported that the Voluntary Sector Support Fund during 2007/8 was 425,420 of Council funding topped-up by 120,000 of Neighbourhood Renewal Funding, providing a total pot of 545,420 for distribution. The sum for distribution during 2008/9 without NRF or an appropriate replacement would be 430,869, a reduction of 21%. The 11 organisations were guaranteed this core funding and had been asked to base their budgeting on the reduced level of support. The Authority was, however, looking at the possibility of a transition year, and if as a consequence of budget setting this materialised, 123,000 could be made available from the Working Neighbourhoods Fund to top up the Core Grant Fund. It was noted that plans were in place for either eventuality. The revised allocations for the individual organisation were presented to Members along with a comparison of their allocation for the previous year.

There had been an expectation that the Voluntary Sector Support Fund would be the subject of a full review during 2007/8, however it was considered that waiting until 2008/9 would bring more benefits and lead to more robust decision making, especially through the involvement of the emerging Voluntary Development Agency "Catalyst."

It was explained that Catalyst was the chosen trading name of the Borough's newly developed Voluntary Development Agency. Catalyst had appointed a Board of Trustees, had agreed its own Memorandum of Association & Articles and since September 2007 had become a fully functional organisation. The Council had two nominated places on the Board, one occupied by the Head of Housing, the other by Councillor Beall. The Chair of the organisation was Stephen Bray who had a senior role in the North East in Accent a registered social landlord and was also the Chair of the Housing & Neighbourhood Partnership in Stockton.

It was advised that Catalyst, as it developed would become the strategic organisation for the voluntary and community sectors in Stockton-On-Tees. Its role would be a Borough wide; Sub-Regional; Regional and National advocate and champion to secure strategic funding and influence policy for the benefit of the sector. Being tasked with shaping the review of the Voluntary Sector Support Fund would provide an important early task for the organisation and galvanise the sector into collective action. It was indicated that there were sufficiently experienced representatives on the Catalyst Board to ensure that decision-making was clear and transparent.

It was explained that another emerging influence within the Community and Voluntary Sector in Stockton was the development of a Community Interest Company (CIC). It was noted that the CIC was not to be confused with Catalyst. The CIC would be a delivery agency and was a collaboration between a number of key agencies from within the sector, namely The Five Lamps Organisation, Newtown Community Resource Centre and Accent Regeneration. The CIC was ready to be established as a legal entity (company limited by guarantee and no share capital). It was noted that a Memorandum and Articles of Association had been drafted and agreed and awaited final sign-off by the partners. The Partner's stated objectives for establishing the CIC were as follows:-

• To contribute, and add value, to the delivery of neighbourhood renewal and regeneration in Stockton.
• To provide a delivery channel to work in support of Catalyst (the newly established strategic body) within an evolving and new commissioning framework.
• To increase the capacity and effectiveness of the broader third sector in the borough through structured joint working, improved relationships, joint resource and asset management, joint support mechanisms, common priorities.
• To accelerate the development of local social enterprise; places and people working for themselves.

Members were advised that the lead partners suggested that the CIC would provide greater efficiency, building third sector capability and efficiency through joint working and resource/service sharing.

RESOLVED that:-

1. The Voluntary Sector Support Fund 2008/9, amounting to 430,869 be distributed amongst the 11 organisations as set out as Annex1 to this report and Core Funding Agreements (CFA) be extended to cover 2008/9.

2. if the 123,00 of Working Neighbourhoods Fund is agreed in the budget setting process it be approved for distribution amongst the 11 organisations as set out in Annex 1 to this report, bringing the total fund to 553,869.

3. Allocations for 2008/9, as detailed in Annex1, be approved subject to compliance by the recipients in meeting the "Code of Practice - Governance".

4. The approach that Officers work alongside the Borough's emerging Voluntary Development Agency, Catalyst, to undertake a full review of the Voluntary Sector Support Fund during 2008/9 be endorsed.

5. The update information on Catalyst & the Community Interest Company be noted.
Reasons for the Decision
Nos.1-4 To ensure that vital payments can be made to our voluntary sector partners in the new financial year April 2008.

No.5 To ensure that Officers are authorised to work with an independent agency to begin to make decisions on the distribution of Local Authority resources.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
None
Declared (Cabinet Member) Conflicts of Interest
Councillors Mrs McCoy and Nelson declared personal prejudicial interests in the item as they were members of Stockton and District Advice and Information Service and left the meeting room for the consideration and voting of this item.
Details of any Dispensations
Not Applicable
Date and Time by which Call In must be executed
By no later than midnight on Friday 22nd February 2008
Attachment

Date of Publication: 18 February 2008


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