Individual Councillors will be able to allocate discretionary Member Awarded Funding (MAF) to the community-based and neighbourhood-level groups which have emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic to help the most vulnerable and isolated in our society.
We will temporarily amend the rules governing how this money can be allocated so that smaller and less formal groups are able to receive it. We will also remove the minimum level of grant, of £250, for Covid-19 community groups. This will make small amounts of support available, which may be more attractive to smaller groups; meeting their needs and reducing the financial responsibility involved in larger grants.
Under the MAF system, South Gloucestershire Councillors are given a budget to help fund groups supporting local needs in their Wards. Quite reasonably, they will need to demonstrate who they are, how they operate and the benefits they provide to local people. Many of the new groups have arisen from Facebook and WhatsApp communities however and as we recognise the value of the help they are delivering, we do not want to disadvantage them because they have not drafted a formal constitution, for example, or unduly slow down the process of them receiving support.
Lighter touch rules will allow Ward Members to direct funds to these groups during the Covid-19 pandemic, if they wish, so long as they are registered on our Community Aid Directory. This online guide includes information about more than 60 groups across South Gloucestershire (www.southglos.gov.uk/communityaid).
Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, Toby Savage, said: “Every Member of the Council has been so impressed with the community-spirit that has swelled across South Gloucestershire as individuals have come together to help friends, neighbours and strangers alike as we work together to tackle the virus and keep each other safe and healthy.
“Many of the groups that we are all now becoming familiar with have grown up rapidly on good will and the skills of volunteers alone. As we all recognise that we will have to get used to limitations on normal life for a while yet, some of these groups may find themselves in need of some funding to keep themselves going or improve how they coordinate volunteers and meet local needs.
“I know that Ward Councillors right across South Gloucestershire are already involved in many of these groups and that they will be keen to support them further if a small grant can help them continue to do their amazing work.”
Individual Councillors will be able to discuss the new arrangements with local groups in their area and can be contacted directly. The 2020/21 budget for MAF, agreed by the council in February this year, is £183,000. Each councillor is able to allocate a maximum total of up to £3,000 within this financial year to local community groups who meet the criteria. MAF will continue to be available to organisations seeking funding for other projects and services outside of the health emergency and will follow the existing procedures and principles.
Information about Member Awarded Funding can be found online at Member Awarded Funding
The direct link to the Community Aid Directory is available at Community Aid Directory