2.1. Voluntary community and social enterprise (VCSE) groups would be eligible to apply for funding from the Social Infrastructure Fund. Groups would need to be properly constituted and have a bank account in the name of their organisation.
2.2. Grants funding will be awarded to groups wishing to invest in new facilities that are open to the whole community (groups with restricted memberships will not be eligible). Grants will be between £100,000 and £500,000 to ensure they have sizeable impact on communities.
2.3. Norfolk County Council would publish a “call for projects” from voluntary and community groups at the start of each financial year. In this way the council would be able to specify any particular requirements it may have in each call, and direct the funding to areas where gaps in provision or community need have been identified, if it wanted. Respondents would then have to show how their proposal met both the call requirements and the general criteria of the funding.
2.4. At least one call will be held per year. There might be scope to hold further calls depending on the allocation of funding and whether e.g. the funding was aligned to other funders. Funding that it is not allocated in one year would be rolled over into the next.
2.5. It is proposed that rules governing the fund will be relatively light touch to enable wide engagement, whilst still providing audit assurance to the Council that the funds are being properly used. Organisations will not need to demonstrate match funding, for example, but may use Norfolk County Council grants to match other funding streams if required.
2.6. It is proposed that the fund should be managed within Finance and Commercial Services. Audit oversight would be provided by Norfolk Audit Services and would be done on the basis of randomly sampling a small percentage of monitoring and claims work. It should be borne in mind that both teams usually charge fees for undertaking this type of work. A Social Infrastructure Fund Board would be set up to both provide strategic leadership of the calls process, identifying areas for investment, and making funding decisions (delegated from Cabinet) on receipt of appraisal summaries of submitted projects.
2.7. A draft application form and guidance are attached, as well as a draft appraisal form. Advice will be provided to organisations on how to draft their applications at workshops when a call for funding is published.
2.8. Once applications are received officers will undertake appraisals of applications and provide one-page summaries of each project and funding recommendations to the Social Infrastructure Board.
2.9. Key milestones in the management of the fund would be:
- Meeting of Social Infrastructure Board to agree call for projects
- Call for projects issued
- Deadline for applications
- Appraisals of projects completed
- Social Infrastructure Board meet to make funding decisions and to agree future calls, and consider any risks and mitigating actions relating to the fund
- Grant offer letters issued to successful applicants and rejection letters sent to unsuccessful ones
- Monitoring reports submitted and reviewed
- Project closure reports submitted and reviewed
2.10. Each year a selection of work undertaken through this fund would be assured by internal audit, who would report back to the Social Infrastructure Board.
2.11. The make up of the Social Infrastructure Board would include at least:
- Andrew Proctor, Leader
- Andrew Jamieson, Cabinet Member for Finance
2.12. Terms and conditions for funding and detailed requirements for monitoring of both spend and outcomes will be set out in the grant offer letter.
2.13. Reports on the investments made under this fund will be made to Cabinet annually.