A micro-grant scheme designed to support community organisations has been backed by Lichfield District Council’s cabinet.

Lichfield District Council House

The scheme will see £300 given to each member of the local authority to distribute in order to help groups within their ward.

A report from Cllr Ashley Yeates to the meeting said the money would allow councillors to support groups who may not be eligible for other types of funding.

Cllr Doug Pullen, leader of Lichfield District Council, said the grants would help members to have a “tangible impact” on their communities.

“I fully welcome the principal of micro-grants – they’re tried and tested.

“One measure of how successful we are is how many formal meetings we attend. I don’t have any issue with that, but I think another measure ought to be how closely connected we are to our communities and the wards we represent.

“This will allow those councillors who really are closely connected to make a tangible impact.”

Cllr Doug Pullen, Lichfield District Council

The scheme will be a pilot over two years and echoes a larger scheme run by Staffordshire County Council.

But some concerns were raised by cabinet members over the plan for the district council scheme to see payment of the £300 made directly into the bank accounts of councillors for them to distribute.

Cllr Andy Smith said:

“It’s a great concept and I really encourage it – I’d like to think in future years we can increase it as well.

“We’re trying to streamline this and I get that. If we’re paying the £300 into each member’s bank account to be able to distribute as they see fit, what are the checks and balances to ensure it has been spent and spent on the correct things?”

Cllr Andy Smith, Lichfield District Council
Cllr Ashley Yeates

Cllr Yeates said training and proof of where the money has spent would be needed.

“At the end of each year each member will send list and proof of where they’ve used the funding.

“We’re also going to be conducting training to explain where they can and can’t use this funding.

“Also, this comes under the code of conduct – if they step outside they’ll lose their position as a councillor.”

Cllr Ashley Yeates, Lichfield District Council

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8 Comments

  1. Can’t wait to see some of the pet projects listed at the end of the year!

    The micro grants system is a great idea. More information on the training and checks and balances would be very welcome though.

    After all, this is the same LDC that offered IT training at the start of lockdown for those struggling with the move to use new technology. How did that work out?

    Also, this is the same LDC that suggested additional training to a councillor who called for this independent news site to be “stopped” as she didn’t like coverage and how voters reacted in their comments. How did that training go?

  2. The micro grants issue is a good idea. Using councillors own bank accounts to administer the scheme is not. My bank account is for my personal banking, not for distributing taxpayers’ money and hence I will not be accepting the cash.

    The “rules” on distribution are open to interpretation. It is easy to see how making a decision about who gets the funds could be a judgement, and there could be disagreements about what is considered “appropriate” resulting in allegations of financial impropriety through a difference of opinion.

    As a chartered accountant, being accused of or found “guilty” of such impropriety (however unlikely) is a risk I am not prepared to take. Being found, as a result of someone’s opinion, to have misused £300 of public funds would be career ending!

    If there are any groups in Chadsmead that would benefit from £300 (or a share thereof) let me know and we’ll come up with a solution. But it won’t involve me letting the council send £300 to my personal bank account for some, as yet, unknown purpose.

  3. Giving taxpayers money back on the cheap is what “streamline” means. The draft policy that went to the the Scrutiny Committee in March stated that payments would be made direct to applicants via BACS or cheque (remember them?) NOT that the funds (£14,100 in total) would go straight into the Councillor’s personal bank account for them to issue cheques or cash or bank transfer.

    This was slipped into the policy which was agreed by the Cabinet.

    I think the Conservative Leadership has a ‘streamline’ duty to pay the £100,000 compensation to Bromford – via the Leaders’ personal bank account.

  4. Well the sentiment is good and can’t disagree it could be a good thing, but the process is absolutely shocking.
    In my former role as a Risk Mgr for a Wealth Management business this is potentially sackable…
    For example, as a Cllr you are given say £300 to your bank a/c but let’s say the council is Annually-audited…why should your personal a/c which has nothing to do with being a Cllr, be under scrutiny?
    There was always a CASS element to my role, Client Assets should be separate from bank monies & that is auditable. Why is this different? It shouldn’t be!
    Also & I realise Cllrs can’t be sacked by anyone but the electorate, but this suggests they can,,,Cllrs are not employees surely. How does that work?
    Maybe there’s a workaround for this but it sounds a bit ‘on the hoof’ right now.
    Anyone else feel this is a bit wrong in its current format?

  5. The Scribbler.
    Well done in listing some of the past failures at Lichfield District Council regarding training. However, don’t forget that the training comes within the remit of officers at Lichfield District Council. Don’t forget the ongoing Leyfields and Netherstowe fiasco. One of the suggestions coming out from the so called independent inquiry is that further training of officers and members should take place. Presumably the training will be undertaken by the same officers who may be involved with the sale of land and planning fiasco. Absolutely risible. The pantomime season has started early in Lichfield.

  6. Stop griping everyone! This is brilliant news and I personally trust every word that comes from the mellifluous mouth of 2003 Stars in Their Eyes Barry Gibb Regional Finalist Ashley Yeates. When he says that they hope to increase the sums in the future, I believe him. I look forward to the day when rather than a paltry £300 councillors get tens of thousands of pounds of public money paid directly into their personal bank accounts for them to splash around at their discretion. That is the Tory way after all!

  7. Ashley Yeates should be lose his position as councillor for defending the distribution of the money in to personal accounts. It is deeply concerning that this method of distribution has been approved. How can these people be held accountable?

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