West Norfolk community groups asked to take part in major funding consultation

King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council looks to simplify grant system which gives �500,000 a year to community groups

Community and voluntary groups across West Norfolk are being asked to take part in a major consultation process to decide how �500,000 of public money is distributed each year.

West Norfolk Council supports a number of voluntary groups in the borough but is keen to streamline the process and wants to hear from those who receive funding or grants.

Over the two years leading up to May 2013, government funding has been reduced by 28pc and the council has had to scrutinise its budget in every area.

There is no suggestion at this stage that the amount of money available to community groups will be cut, but council cabinet member Elizabeth Nockolds said it was a case of making the system transparent and fair.

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'During the last two years we have looked at every service in the borough and this is one of the last areas,' she said.

The council supports 14 organisations with service level agreements which have a value of �236,000 a year. The three-year agreements allow the groups, including Lynn Festival and West Norfolk Befriending, to plan ahead and come to an end next year.

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The remainder of the budget is awarded via different schemes which help smaller groups. There is also a system of in-kind contributions which can range from printing to staff time.

'The new scheme will need to clearly set out what we want to achieve through our investment in the voluntary and community sector and the mechanisms that we could use to achieve this,' says the consultation document.

The new system will be introduced next April but the amount available will depend on the budget which is set each autumn.

Community and voluntary groups can take part in the consultation, which runs until August 8, by completing a questionnaire. It will be sent to groups currently receiving money but all groups in the area are being asked to complete it.

For more information or a copy of the questionnaire contact Sarah Dennis on 01553 616256

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