Community grants given by council plummeting amid coronavirus crisis

One of the charities the council supports is SENsational Families, which provides support services a

One of the charities the council supports is SENsational Families, which provides support services and training to parents who have a child with a special educational need or a disability (SEND). Photo: SENsational Families - Credit: SENsational Families

Funding spent by a council on supporting community projects and groups has plummeted due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has emerged.

One of the charities the council supports is SENsational Families, which provides support services a

One of the charities the council supports is SENsational Families, which provides support services and training to parents who have a child with a special educational need or a disability (SEND). Photo: SENsational Families - Credit: SENsational Families

Just 12 community grants have been awarded so far this year by Broadland Council, which spent more than £20,000 last year supporting youth, wellbeing and environmental initiatives.

The council allocates a £500 sum per member to spend on projects within their ward - but last year, five members did not spend any of their budgets and ten members spent less than 75pc.

During 2019-20, a total of 52 schemes each received an average of £392 in support, compared to just 12 being awarded in 2020-21.

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The council says the decrease is “to be expected” due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis and the lockdown restrictions meaning groups are unable to meet.


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At a meeting of the scrutiny committee, which questions the council’s decision-making, the members discussed how to ensure the unspent grants were awarded.

Papers published ahead of the meeting, held on Tuesday, November 17, revealed the lack of funding being handed out.

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Kerrie Gallagher, communities senior manager, wrote: “This year so far there has been very little spend, with only one application processed and two in progress.

“This is to be expected because of the attention which has been focused on dealing with Covid-19 and community groups have not been meeting.”

But she added: “There is a need in our communities for funding, however, and we would expect that spend will increase significantly before the deadline in March.”

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But she added: “There is a need in our communities for funding, however, and we would expect that spend will increase significantly before the deadline in March.”

More grants have been awarded since the papers were published and the council website now states that 12 councillors have awarded £4,416 of the year’s £24,000 budget.

It was also revealed a significant chunk wasn’t spent last year, with just £20,388 being awarded of the £23,500 fund, and 13pc left unused.

Ms Gallagher wrote: “Several councillors struggle to spend the money, whilst others feel they need more available to them.”

Speaking during the meeting, Liberal Democrat member Susan Holland said: “My biggest concern is the underspend - I do support that it should be available to go to any other area where it’s needed.”

She also asked for the grant to increase to £1,000 per councillor and said: “We all know £1,000 per ward is not a lot of money. But £1,000 can make a substantial difference to a small community.”

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