County Council to consider consulting on future of discretionary grants (29th April)

Published on: Friday, 19th April 2024
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Proposals to consult on the future of grant funding to voluntary and community groups are set to be considered by Derbyshire County Council.

Cabinet, which meets on Monday 29th April, will be asked to agree to launch consultations to seek the public’s views on plans to end two types of discretionary grant support.

Councillors will hear that the county council has been funding voluntary organisations with annual grants for several years, over which time it has experienced growing financial pressures.

These include factors beyond the council’s control including higher than anticipated inflation, higher prices for fuel, energy and materials, meeting the cost of the national pay award and the unprecedented increase in demand for adults and children’s social care services.

It means the council must now consider how it prioritises spending on services it is required to provide by law against those which it has no legal obligation to deliver.

Cabinet will be asked to approve recommendations contained within two reports to consult on proposals to end adult social care discretionary grant funding and corporate services and transformation discretionary grant funding in March 2025. 

Councillors will hear the proposal to stop adult social care grants would affect 30 community and voluntary groups including advocacy, training, befriending and social activities. In total these currently receive annual grants totalling just over £722,000. 

A further 20 groups would be affected by the proposal to stop corporate services and transformation grants, including infrastructure support, groups supporting black and minority ethnic communities and specialist advice. These receive grants totalling just over £333,000. 

Seven organisations would be affected by both proposals. If both recommendations are agreed, the two departments would co-ordinate their approaches to the consultation to avoid duplication, adds the report.

Following a previous consultation in 2022, all groups receiving funding were told that grants would cease and the council would commission services where required instead. However, due to budget pressures, commissioning did not get underway and the council must now prioritise statutory services, the meeting will be told.

Of the groups that receive funding, every locality has different models of delivery and differing needs for its population. There are also many more organisations which deliver preventative support across the county that do not receive any funding from the council, adds the report.

Councillor Natalie Hoy, the county council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Care, said: “We’ve always prided ourselves on being a well-managed council but like all other councils across the country we’re facing increasing financial pressures that are outside our control.

“Many of these organisations have been receiving grants for up to 20 years as a matter of course. Since then, Derbyshire's population has changed and people's aspirations, needs and preferences for support have also changed which is why it’s important to consider consulting to get their views to ensure we’re providing services they want and need to achieve better outcomes.

“Our current financial challenges also mean it is absolutely essential that the limited funding available is spent wisely. To do this, budgets must be targeted and distributed fairly to ensure public money goes to the right places and to those who need it most.

“Adult social care and public health remain committed to ensuring a range of preventative services are widely available across the county to support people, including those with eligible care needs.”

Councillor Carol Hart, the county council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Communities, added: “We have a responsibility to ensure that we are making the best use of our finite resources to support people fairly across the whole of the county and that we are protecting services for those people who need us most.

“Like many other councils across the country we are facing significant budget pressures that are beyond our control which means we must consider how we use the resources we have available to ensure we can continue to deliver services we have to by law.

“However I’d like to reassure people that these are proposals only and, if Cabinet agrees to consult, no decisions would be taken until we’d had the chance to hear everyone’s views and take them in to account.”

Find out more here: Agenda for Cabinet on Monday 29th April 2024, 2:00 pm - Derbyshire County Council

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