TO REVIEW THE COUNCIL’S APPROACH TO GRANT GIVING IN 2021/22
Background and summary
This report invites Finance Employment and Risk Management (FERM) Committee to review the Council’s approach to grant giving, both in the context of the Council year 2021/22 and also in terms of setting up a structure for grant giving in future years.
Up until 2019 the approach was to set grant budgets as part of the budget setting process before the start of the financial year. Then in late August / early September notice was given both on posters and the website, inviting applications to be made on a standard form, usually by the beginning of October, for consideration at the October FERM Committee, which would make recommendations to Full Council in November. The standard application form contains notes explaining the criteria for grant giving. Appended to this report is the application form used in 2020, when because of Covid, the process was delayed until even later in the year.
Grant budgets are included in the Council’s budget for 2021/22. However they need to be reconsidered in the light of circumstances and in particular a timescale for grant giving established if grants under s137 Local Government Act 1972 are to be offered in this financial year.
The issues are set out in the body of the report.
Report and recommendations
- Under s142 Local Government Act 1972 the Council has the power to contribute towards or provide parish newsletters. Melton PC assists with funding for the production and distribution of the Melton Messenger, a community magazine published by St Andrew’s Church, which includes news from the wider community, including the Parish Council. In 2020/21, the Council budgeted for a grant of £1,150, but only gave £400, to reflect the suspension of the printed version due to Covid. In 2021/22 the budget is £1,200, and whether and when to pay this amount needs to be considered and a suitable recommendation put forward to Full Council.
- Under s137 Local Government Act 1972 the Council has the power to incur by resolution expenditure which is in the interests of the area or its inhabitants subject to an annual limit prescribed by law. For 2021/22 the limit is £8.41 x the number of electors in the parish. Given the size of Melton (3531 electors as at December 2020) it has never been a risk that the limit (about £29.6k) will be exceeded. This power can be used to make grants to voluntary organisations where there is no other specific power that applies; e.g. grants to Citizen’s Advice would not be made under s137 as there is a specific power – s142(2A) Local government Act 1972. [Note: the power does not apply where a Council declares by resolution that it has the general power of competence when it can do anything that generally individuals of full age can do. However there are limits; councils must not do anything under the power of competence which would be ultra vires, or outside their powers generally.] In 2020/21, there was no budget set for grant giving, however the Council used the underspend on the grant to the Melton Messenger to make two small grants totalling £659. For 2021/22 there is a budget of £350, £249 of which has been expended in a grant to contribute to the cost of printing the Local Food Project leaflet. FERM Members are invited to consider whether to recommend an increase to the budget, or that the Council does not make grants this year.
- In terms of the future administration of grants and publication of the Council’s grant-giving arrangements, it would be helpful if the framework can be standardised for future years, in terms of both how it will operate and when within the Council year, with only the amount available to be left for annual variation in the light of the agreed budget. Councillors are invited to consider this aspect and make recommendations to Full Council.
Clerk and Executive Officer to the Council
7 October 2021