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FEATURES - SHOW ME THE MONEY

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In the final part of our series on where to find money for your pet project, Seamus Ward guides you through funding...
In the final part of our series on where to find money for your pet project, Seamus Ward guides you through funding in five areas

Sustainability

District of Easington is working with its local primary care trust to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions and improve local residents' health.

GPs can refer patients to the Warmer Homes on Prescription scheme if they are suffering from illnesses affected by cold, such as arthritis. They are prioritised for

insulation by the council. Funds contributed by the trust let the council act faster.

The council also offers free home insulation for over-60s. The scheme is funded via central government grants of£400,000 from the Neighbourhood Renewal fund and the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs' energy efficiency commitment.

Easington is collaborating with six other councils to attract funding for improved home insulation. This County Durham Energy Partnership, working with the Energy Action Grants Agency Partnership, manages the Warm Front scheme on behalf of Defra to secure Warm Front grants for local householders on benefits.

More funding ideas

The Carbon Trust offers up to£250,000 to support research on reducing carbon emissions. Bids must show innovation, benefit the UK and demonstrate need.

www.thecarbontrust.co.uk

The£36.5m Community Recycling and Economic Development programme gives grants of up to£300,000 to help recycling in -deprived areas

www.rswt.org/cred

Councils can work with voluntary groups (which must lead the bid) to apply for Powergen's GreenPlan grants of up to£25,000. www.powergen.co.uk

New: The European Union's LIFE+ Fund will run from 2007 to 2013. It will replace a number of environmental funds, including the current LIFE fund, which provides 30-50% of the cost of environmental projects with a budget of£300,000 to£3m.

www.defra.gov.uk/environment/life/life-plus.htm

Neighbourhood renewal

Haringey LBC has received large amounts of external funding in the past, but it is adapting to a new environment where European pots are smaller and other funds are emerging.

The borough is one of the 88 councils to benefit from the Neighbourhood Renewal fund until 2008. However, Seema Manchanda, Haringey's head of economic regeneration, says: 'Post 2006, we anticipate that some area-based funds such as the single regeneration budget will decline, EU funding will become smaller and other funds are changing so they will be allocated on a sub-regional level.'

This means regional development agency cash, for example, will be allocated to the Upper Lee Valley, which includes neighbouring boroughs Enfield and Waltham Forest LBCs. 'We are working with more partners and trying to develop bids to tackle common problems,' she says.

The move to sub-regional funding made it more difficult for smaller, voluntary groups to access grants, so Haringey is working with these groups on joint bids. One example is a successful£160,000 bid to the European Refugee Fund, which was submitted in partnership with two local refugee support groups, 5E and NLPC. The project provides English language, IT and multimedia training and an advocacy service, as well as offering work experience placements to refugees.

Haringey's local strategic partnership develops regeneration plans and matches these to external funding sources rather than tailoring bids to meet funders' criteria. 'We have a clear community strategy but, if you bend too much towards funders, you can lose direction,' Ms Manchanda adds.

More funding ideas

The neighbourhood renewal fund, awarded by the ODPM, is worth£525m a year and is restricted to the 88 most deprived English councils. A decision on allocations for 2006-07 and 2007-08 has yet to be made.

www.neighbourhood.gov.uk

The Safer & Stronger Communities Fund unites existing ODPM and Home Office funds. The objectives are to address crime, disorder and the quality of the local environment, improve the most deprived areas and empower local people. The funding streams include neighbourhood wardens, Single Community

Programme and Building Safer Communities.

In future, grants from the fund will be linked to local area agreements.

www.neighbourhood.gov.uk

New: The Treasury's local enterprise growth initiative was announced in the 2005 Budget. It will provide£50m in 2006-07 (£150m by 2008-09) for projects that aim to stimulate economic growth.

www.hm-treasury.gov.uk

Education and training

Like many councils, Portsmouth City Council is using an innovative scheme to reduce unemployment and increase construction skills locally. The Local Labour in Construction initiative makes developers commit to employing and training local people first on regeneration projects.

In Portsmouth, the initiative subsidised the wages of each trainee. Jane Hurdley, the council's head of regeneration and business, says it was successful on regeneration projects - such as the harbour redevelopment - but changes in the European funding regime forced the council to suspend the initiative.

The council used European Social Fund grants to support the scheme, but now the fund is administered by co-financing organisations - Jobcentre Plus, the Learning & Skills Council and the South East England Development Agency.

'Jobcentre Plus is charged with getting people into work but the Learning & Skills Council is charged with improving people's skills,' says Ms Hurdley. 'In order to get funding for our whole programme, we would have to have two bids.'

But she is hoping to get schemes off the ground that do not need two separate bids. One aims to attract Learning & Skills Council money using the Area Investment Framework, which details all funding coming into an area and matches this to need. Shortfalls are made up by the South East England

Development Agency, using co-financing cash. The project aims to take people employed in low-end jobs, train them in construction and pay them while they are learning. Employers will be offered a subsidy to take on the trainees.

More funding ideas

European Social Fund money is distributed by

the Learning & Skills Council and Jobcentre Plus, which are responsible for finding matching funds of up to 65%. Current grants end in 2006 and, from 2000-06, the fund will provide about£4.5bn to Great Britain. Negotiations on the next round (2007-13) are being held and are expected to finish in 2006.

www.esf.gov.uk

The Learning & Skills Council also provides grants, including work-based learning and adult and community learning. www.lsc.gov.uk

Jobcentre Plus recently announced that contract letting competitions would be extended to

October this year and priority would be given to bids aimed at lone parents and those out of work

because of sickness or disability.

www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk

Technology

Few councils hoping to kick-start

e-government would look to legal aid. But that is what Bassetlaw DC did when it created a network of video-conferencing suites, known as Help Points, across its mainly rural 250 square-mile area.

The Legal Services Commission - which

replaced the Legal Aid Board in 2000 - offered grants in 2002 for communities aiming to use IT to increase access to legal advice. The council won£215,000 after submitting a bid with the local Citizens Advice Bureau.

The initiative grew out of the council's

plan to improve services with communities outside Retford and Worksop. Now, residents in 11 villages can talk to council staff using the video conferencing equipment to get information or help and advice with completing a form.

'The suites contain scanners so they

just put their supporting documents on the scanner and the adviser can operate it remotely,' says Steve Brown, head of customer services. 'They also have signature pads so the form can be completed and with us ready to be processed straightaway.'

Two sites have been funded by other bodies - one by the National Lottery's New Opportunities Fund, another by the Countryside Agency. The scheme has cost about£520,000 and some 70% of that has been provided by external sources.

Mr Brown does not believe the scheme had to be compromised to gain the grant award. 'Sometimes people dream up a project to fit the funding criteria but in our case we were well advanced and found the right funding stream for it.'

The Legal Services Commission funding has now ended but the project is ongoing and it is expected that two further sites will be announced soon. For now, the council is supporting most of the sites' revenue costs but Mr Brown is seeking other sources of external funding to cover these expenses.

More funding ideas

Between 2002-03 and 2005-06, the ODPM has awarded grants to councils that have satisfactorily completed implementing electronic government statements. The programme is due to end next year.

All councils in England received a final£150,000 implementing electronic government grant from the ODPM in the financial year 2005-06.

www.odpm.gov.uk

New: In March, the Department of Trade & Industry, Prime Minister's Strategy Unit and the Cabinet Office launched a Digital Challenge award for councils to use technology to deliver modern services.

The scheme will last three years from 2006-07 and a series of regional heats will decide which council will represent their region. The winners will be given up to£100,000 to develop their bids. Further details are expected this summer.

www.strategy.gov.uk/downloads/work_areas/digital_strategy/digital_strategy.pdf

Children/ family

Gaining an award from the Department for Education & Skills' Children's Fund is not easy but has been worthwhile, says Andy Challenor, Children's Fund programme manager at Telford & Wrekin Council.

The council had to satisfy seven objectives including raising educational achievement, promoting wellbeing and improving safety.

Mr Challenor said: 'We had to show we'd work in partnership, target groups and why we chose them, as well as how we would involve children, young people and their families in the development of services.'

Telford received initial funding of£1.2m for 2002-04, which was extended to 2006. The local fund includes partners from other council departments, the local primary care trust and voluntary sector organisations. Children and young people were also involved in decisions. Children asked for more activities, so the local fund pays dedicated workers to organise everything from football to dance and drama classes.

More funding ideas

The Department for Education & Skills' Sure Start is the major government programme for children and young people up to 14, with an emphasis on early education and childcare. www.surestart.gov.uk

The Carnegie Young People Initiative has funding until 2007 from the Carnegie UK Trust to promote development of young people in decision making. www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk/cypi/home

The Big Lottery Fund offers a number of grants, including Positive Activities for Young People (apply to government regional offices), which aims to support summer activities for vulnerable children. www.nof.org.uk

New: The Big Lottery Fund also administers the Football Foundation programme. Applications from schools and council education departments for football projects must be made by 1 September. www.footballfoundation.org.uk

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