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First voluntary council tax levy fund invites bids

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A Westminster LBC fund, bankrolled by its voluntary top up levy on council tax payers, has opened its doors to applications from social projects.

Voluntary groups in the borough have been invited to apply for a slice of the £200,000 fund, which is being supported by the proceeds from the central London authority’s voluntary community contribution scheme.

A total of £130,000 has been earmarked for youth projects with £70,000 for rough sleeping. Voluntary organisations can bid for up to £30,000 per project.

The authority has raised £620,000 from the authority’s Band H council tax payers since the voluntary community contribution scheme was launched last year.

Under the scheme, these households were invited to pay double the £833 Band H rate.

A total of 644 households, just over four per cent of those living in Westminster’s 15,800 Band H properties, have contributed to the scheme, including some payments of up to £10,000 apiece.

Westminster said that Band H council tax payers had prioritised youth work, rough sleeping and tackling loneliness when consulted on the additional community contribution.

The City of Westminster Charitable Trust, which is managing the fund, has set May 24 as the deadline for applications.

Nickie Aiken (Con), leader of Westminster, urged groups dealing with gangs and knife crime to apply to the fund.

She said: “Those people who have supported the council’s community contribution scheme are now going to see their money hard at work –serving the priorities they told us that matter to them.

“Anyone who reads the news knows we need to do all we can to get rough sleepers off the streets and give our young people positive career horizons. The city council already runs a number of initiatives to tackle gangs and knife culture, and I want to see organisations that complement this work putting their applications in.”

A fresh round of grants to tackle loneliness among the young and elderly will be launched later this year.

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