Plans have been made for councillors in Lichfield and Burntwood to be given £300 each to support organisations in their area.

Lichfield District Council House

The scheme – which is a smaller version of a similar initiative at Staffordshire County Council – will be discussed at a Lichfield District Council overview and scrutiny committee meeting next week.

A report from cabinet member Cllr Ashley Yeates said the proposal would be for an initial two year pilot scheme to run.

“A councillor community grant scheme is being considered to enable councillors to directly award funding to grassroots organisations in their ward.

“Small amounts of funding can make a big difference to communities at a local level and elected members are well placed to identify local needs.”

Cllr Ashley Yeates, Lichfield District Council

If approved, the £14,100 total to fund the initiative would be taken from an existing £177,000 funding pot for larger grants.

“Does not appear to have the safeguards”

Steve Norman

But Cllr Steve Norman, leader of the Labour opposition group at the district council, said he was concerned over a lack of detail about the proposal.

“The council is proposing a scheme that does not appear to have the safeguards even of the county council’s version it seeks to emulate – albeit with less public money. 

“The county council’s scheme with just £2,500 for each councillor to award – a quarter of the original funding – has a number of safeguards which are missing from the district council’s proposals. 

“It is proposed that each councillor is able to award £300 of public money to all sorts of groups, though church groups – the vast majority of volunteer groups in the district – will not be able to apply. 

“There is no need to show that the funding contributes to the council’s strategic objectives or that the group has a constitution or that they can match fund the grant in money or kind as the county council’s does.” 

Cllr Steve Norman, Lichfield District Council

Cllr Norman said he hoped the scrutiny committee would ask questions of the plans.

“With parish councils and the We Love Lichfield fund available it is hard to see how this really benefits communities apart from sitting councillors themselves leading up to the elections in two years’ time. 

“I hope members of the community, housing and health scrutiny community will properly scrutinise the proposal including asking whose idea it was as it was not on the committee’s work programme until now.” 

Cllr Steve Norman, Lichfield District Council

The plans will be discussed at a meeting on 10th March.

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  1. This was first mooted by the previous Council Leader. I opposed it then and would oppose it now. Why? It shows a lack of understanding of what our fantastic voluntary and community sector need, which is longer-term and more sustainable funding for the future, and it shows a lack of strategic vision for the District. We’ve seen what a fantastic local response there has been over this past year with volunteers responding to the needs of their neighbours. They did this off their own bat and a few quid from a councillor may have helped then but now many of these local groups ae consolidating for the future and grants of £25, even up to £300, won’t make a great deal of difference. 47 x £300 = £14,100. The whole is far greater than the sum of the parts and could be used to make a BIG difference to some local groups to set them up for the longer-term rather than a few quid from latter-day Lords or Ladies Bountiful! (PS A number of councillors I know have made personal donations over this past 12 months amounting to far more than this.)

  2. I agree with both Councillor Steve Norman and Councillor Sue Woodward on this. I am very concerned about there being no real oversight of the suggested sums to be given out by Councillors. I will certainly be raising quite a few questions on this at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee next week.

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