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We're considering consulting on future of discretionary grants

Published: 19 April 2024

We are set to consider proposals to consult on the future of grant funding to voluntary and community groups.

Our Cabinet, which meets on Monday 29 April 2024, will be asked to agree to launch consultations to seek the public’s views on plans to end 2 types of discretionary grant support.

Councillors will hear that we have been funding voluntary organisations with annual grants for several years, over which time we have experienced growing financial pressures.

These include factors beyond our 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 we must now consider how we prioritise spending on services we are required to provide by law against those which we have no legal obligation to deliver.

Cabinet will be asked to approve recommendations contained within 2 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 2 departments would co-ordinate their approaches to the consultation to avoid duplication, adds the report.

Cabinet will also be asked to agree an interim grant of £78,462 to Bolsover Woodland Enterprise - an organisation that supports people with learning disabilities - up to March 2025 to bring its funding timetable in line with the other grant recipients.

Following a previous consultation in 2022, all groups receiving funding were told that grants would cease and we would commission services where required instead. However, due to budget pressures, commissioning did not get underway and we 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 us, adds the report.

Our Cabinet Member for Adult Care, Councillor Natalie Hoy, 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.”

Our Cabinet Member for Health and Communities, Councillor Carol Hart, 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 into account.”

Find more information on the future of discretionary grants on the Derbyshire Democracy website.