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2023 Community fund - guidance for applicants

Fund Rules and Guidance for Applicants

   The Fund
   Applying for Funding
   What is this fund for?
   Eligibility for Funding
   Other funds
   Assessment of application
   Award of funding
   Project delivery
   Project evaluation and publicity
   Evidence of spending
   Data protection


The Fund

Each County Councillor has up to £2,500 to allocate. This can be spent in smaller amounts and there is no set minimum. County Councillors are also able to jointly fund projects which work across their local areas, or even to fund projects working districtwide or countywide.

Bids are initially accepted until 23.59 on 31 October 2023, and funding must be spent by 20 March 2024 unless otherwise agreed with the county council.

The county council may alter this deadline or amend any of the terms of the fund following review at any time.

You must read these fund rules in full prior to making an application, and will be asked to confirm that you accept them all when submitting it.

Please note – the application process may include requesting further information from you as the applicant or conferring with other areas of the council. Even if successful it can take some time to release funds – please consider this when timetabling your application.

Applying for Funding

To apply for funding, you must first have already communicated with the County Councillor(s) you are seeking funding from. You will not be able to proceed with a funding application otherwise. Please see the list of County Councillors on our website for contact details, where you can also search by postcode if you are uncertain who your councillor is. Some County Councillors may prefer to receive a few applications before responding to them, so you may wish to confirm the timescales when discussing with them

The funding application form is hosted on our website and your application must be submitted online via that form.

The application form requires the applicant to outline the nature of the project, who it will help, and give information about the applying organisation or group.

Please note – by submitting a funding application you will be confirming that you accept the Council’s funding conditions as set out in this guide and the application form at the time of application. Organisations not accepting these at the time of applying will not be eligible for funding support. The consequences of not adhering to these rules could be that the council requires the funding to be returned, and / or being barred from accessing the funding in future.

What is this fund for?

Funding may be used in respect of the following three things:

1. Community projects about looking after ourselves

For example:

  1. Projects which will support and enhance personal physical health
  2. Projects which will support the improvement of wellbeing, resilience and independence

2. Community projects about looking after those around us

For example:

  1. Projects to connect people in communities to support, or to each other
  2. Projects to give children and young people the best start in life, and the chance to achieve their potential
  3. Projects which will support those who need additional help

3. Community projects about looking after your place

For example:

  1. Projects which will enhance the places where we live
  2. Projects which will further develop our community spaces
  3. Projects that will bring people together to increase community spirit including celebrating the Coronation of King Charles III

NOTE: For applications relating to Coronation activity, applications will be accepted retrospectively but must be submitted by 23:59 on 30 June 2023. No other type of applications will be accepted retrospectively. 

Eligibility for Funding

Grants made must support only community, voluntary and other non-commercial purposes.

All applications must provide detail on what the applicant is contributing to the project in the way of match funding or contributions in kind. There is no minimum financial expectation for applicants other than parish councils and businesses (including community and not for profit businesses such as Community Interest Companies or incorporated charities). In those cases, the expectation is for 50/50 match funding.

Profit-making businesses are ineligible to apply for funding from the 2023 Community Fund.

The County Council is not able to fund individuals. Fund payments are made by bank transfer and cannot be paid into an individual person's bank account – if your group doesn’t have its own bank account, it can be agreed to make the payment into a local parish council or voluntary sector group’s bank account for them to hold on your behalf, provided that all parties agree to this approach. If taking that approach, please make this very clear in your application form.

Depending on the nature of your support project, the County Council may need to be assured that you have appropriate safeguarding procedures, appropriate insurance etc, and expects that if this information is requested at any time, your organisation will be forthcoming.

If you have accessed funding from the County Council’s members’ fund in the past (previously called the Local Community Fund, the People Helping People Fund, the Covid-19 Support and Recovery Fund and the Community Fund from 2021 onwards), it will need to be clear what is different about your application to the 2023 Community Fund. Applications that appear to be for exactly the same thing as requested previously will be queried for further information, which may slow down the processing of the payment. Additionally, any application which does appear to describe running costs will be asked to evidence why this is needed as a one-off and why it will not be a permanent need.

The Council cannot award funding for the following things:

  1. Staff costs or salaries of any kind
  2. Running costs of an organisation, unless you can evidence why this is needed as a one-off investment and why it will not be a permanent need
  3. Projects run for the benefit of an individual person or anyone’s financial benefit
  4. Any ongoing running costs of existing activity e.g. insurance, fees, rent, transport, premises costs (such as utilities, room hire etc.) except in cases where you need this support as a one-off investment to restart your own fundraising or group activity etc, and where you can explain how funding will achieve this, and why it will not be an ongoing need.
  5. Broad fundraising efforts with no clear timeline for use of the councillor funding (i.e. crowdfunding efforts etc) or projects that involve your organisation redistributing the funding as a third party, including scholarships programmes etc 
  6. Healthcare and treatment services
  7. Formal education
  8. Provision or duplication of any core statutory service generally resourced from/by other statutory organisations (including schools, libraries and highways departments), or of other activities already commissioned by any of the organisations above or the county council
  9. Individually prescribed, targeted and specialist exercise and weight management programmes
  10. Any predominantly religious activity or spending on the land or buildings of places of worship (but this does not preclude religious organisations from making bids for non-religious activity)
  11. Any political activity
  12. A statutory responsibility or services
  13. Projects for the benefit of residents predominantly from outside Staffordshire
  14. Any activity that discriminates on the basis of race, religion, gender, nationality, disability, age or sexual orientation
  15. Activity to make a commercial profit, or where it is not possible to confirm that funding would not be used for commercial profit
  16. Activity that is already funded by the other funds described below
  17. Purchase of property/equipment/kits etc which would be given to group members to keep (in your application you will be asked to confirm that these would all remain the property of the organisation itself in the event that any members leave the group)

If you feel you have a project that may achieve the outcomes required but are concerned by the restrictions above, you should discuss this with your County Councillor ahead of making the application.

Please also be aware that if your project is about working with people in high-risk cohorts, such as those recovering from drug and alcohol misuse, the county council may ask you to go through additional due diligence procedures. This may have an impact on the time available for your project delivery.

Other funds

In your application you will be asked to declare any other funding support you are receiving for your project, in particular any funding from other County Council-supported funding pots. In particular:

  • The County Council runs the Climate Action Fund, which offers funding assistance to local communities to build resilience and reduce Staffordshire’s contributions to climate change. Details can be found here

The expectation is that applicants apply to the appropriate fund and should not expect to receive support from more than one County Council-supported funding stream for the same project. However, if you can demonstrate an evidenced need for additional funding which fits within the purposes of this fund it may be possible to make a follow-up bid to the 2023 Community Fund.

Assessment of application

Your County Councillor will consider your application, and you will have already discussed it with them prior to submitting it. Officers administrating the fund will also carry out due diligence on applications to ensure that they meet the fund criteria, and all necessary information is confirmed.

If either party do not feel that an application meets the criteria set out here, or if there isn’t enough information in the application, you may be contacted to discuss this. Your application may be returned to you to amend and resubmit. If your application does not meet the eligibility requirements or if the member has already spent their fund allocation you will be informed of this and may be advised of a more appropriate fund to make application to.

If your County Councillor(s) wish to support an application they will submit it and provided that the proposed project meets the criteria of the fund and the member has unallocated funds available, the application should be approved.

Award of funding

If your application is approved, the payment will be processed. The County Council is determined to release funding as soon as possible after approvals. However, while payments will ordinarily be made swiftly, the period could be up to 8 weeks after approval.

Funding must only be used in the way described in your application (or in further written agreements with officers of the county council if appropriate) and items should not be purchased before any grant has been approved.

Any changes to how you want to use the funding MUST be agreed with officers of the county council, in writing, and you must receive confirmation of this agreement from the Community Fund mailbox at CommunityFund@staffordshire.gov.uk before proceeding.

If you are found to have used the funding differently otherwise, the county council reserves the right to require return of the funding and / or barring your organisation from future rounds of the Fund.

If you find that you have received an unexpected amount when the grant is deposited, we ask that you make contact with the administrators of the fund as soon as possible so this can be discussed and rectified as necessary.

Project delivery

We expect you to spend funds by 20 March 2024 unless otherwise agreed in writing between the county council and applicants.

If your project cannot go ahead as planned, please discuss this with your County Councillor(s). If you have already received funding you will need to return this to the County Council unless specifically agreed otherwise.

Similarly if you underspend on the project, the county council reserves the right to require return of any unused funding, as it may not be used in line with what was set out in your application.

If you have other funding required for this project to go ahead, you are reminded that the county council cannot release its funding until you have confirmed you have all the remaining funding required. If this is appropriate to you, in your application you will either confirm that you are already ready to proceed, or that you will let us know when this is the case and you need the funding.

Project evaluation and publicity

We will expect you to keep in touch with the County Councillor(s) about the delivery of the project, as we need to understand how the public money has made a difference for the community. Please be aware that County Council officers will likely also contact you for a follow-up on your project. We will not expect a major piece of evaluation work from you but will want to know the story of how the project has gone, and any key headline details about what you’ve achieved.

The application form for the Fund will ask you for detail on a nominated person responsible for publicity, and makes you aware that the County Council uses case studies from applications made to the fund, both internally and in external news stories and reports, and that your project may be used in this way.

Evidence of spending

You should also keep all evidence of spending as you may be contacted by auditors conducting an audit on the fund’s spending. If you are contacted, the county council expects you to engage with the auditors and provide requested information; if it is found that you are failing to provide this information without good reason, your organisation may be barred from accessing the Community Fund in future years.

Data protection

As a public organisation we are subject to the Data Protection Act 2018 and, as such, where we collect any personal data from you as part of the application process we will only use it for this purpose and no other. Your personal data will never be shared with anyone else and will be retained only for as long as it is needed. Non-personal data you submit to use as part of this application process will be used to make decisions to award funding, perform anonymised analysis, or to undertake publicity or fundraising. For more information on how Staffordshire County Council handles personal data, please see our Privacy Notice.

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