Council to replace grant scheme with lottery

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Wealden District Council’s Cabinet have decided to replace their Community Grants Scheme with a lottery and Crowdfunding.

Since the Scheme was introduced in 2005 the Council has awarded over £1 million to charities and community groups to help fund village halls, sports pavilions, lunch clubs, arts festivals and activities for the disabled and young people. At present £20,000 of small grants and £50,000 of capital grants are awarded each year.

The two initiatives are part of a review of how the Council provides support to the voluntary and social enterprise sector. Councils are also under increasing budget pressures, and the report explains this could inevitably impact on the funding available to support local voluntary and community organisations in the long term.

During the Covid crisis the Scheme was adapted to give assistance to groups helping with food, medication and welfare services.

With increasing budget constraints and less Government funding, officers argue alternative operating models are now essential to put communities at the heart of funding and reduce the impact on council tax payers.

Community and Public Health Portfolio Holder Councillor Philip Lunn said:

Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in terms of their ability to fundraise, which has affected their income streams and as a result has impacted on the support that can be provided to local activity.

Councils are also under increasing budget pressures, which could inevitably impact on the funding available to support local voluntary and community organisations in the long term.

We as a council are therefore exploring alternative solutions to support the sector. A community lottery raises money within the community for the community and therefore offers a valuable, additional income generation solution to the voluntary and community and social enterprise sector in Wealden, enabling them to provide valuable services locally.

Cllr Philip Lunn, Crowborough South East

Several local authorities (including Lewes and Tunbridge Wells) already run their own community lottery with tickets costing £1 each. Typically 60 per cent of all ticket sales go to good causes with the rest going to prize money and running costs.

The promotional video for TW Lotto can be seen above.

With Crowdfunding, donations pledged by members of the public go into a holding account and the money is only released when the whole amount has been achieved. If the project target is not achieved, refunds are given to donors.

Yesterday, Wealden District Council’s Cabinet agreed to introduce alternative funding models such as Crowdfunding to replace the current capital grant programme and, over a two year period, phase out the small grant programme and replace with a new community lottery.

Click to download a copy of the report Community Grant and Voluntary Sector Funding Review.

Cabinet members also agreed to encourage councillors to act as champions within their local ward areas to help promote these new funding initiatives to community groups and businesses.

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