Council to review process for awarding voluntary sector grants
Midlothian Council is to consult with voluntary organisations on a review of the way in which voluntary sector grants are awarded.
Ongoing budget pressures mean that the council has limited funding available and is carrying out the review to look at how best to meet the future needs of its communities.
Current 3-year grant cycle to be extended
Midlothian Council paid out £1million in grants to the voluntary sector this year, although it got back £128,600 in rental income and an estimated £303,949 in let charges.
The current 3-year grant cycle is due to end in March 2018, but following a decision taken at a meeting of the full council on Tuesday (June 27) the scheme will be extended by a further 6 months until September 2018, to allow the review to take place.
Contribution made by volunteers
The council has a policy of giving voluntary and local groups support funding to allow them to deliver services in the area. Volunteers contribute significantly to the well being of the community, with 30% of local people actively involved in volunteering every week. Local groups also have the ability to draw on other sources of funding not available to the council. It is estimated that for every £1 of council investment, voluntary groups attract a £10 return in the form of external funding.
Network of voluntary groups
The network of voluntary groups also provides self help groups in areas such as mental health, drug and alcohol dependency; activities to reduce isolation and loneliness; learning opportunities for children and young people, and welfare services such as food banks.
Working in partnership
“We fully recognise the valuable contribution our volunteers and community groups make to Midlothian,” said Community Planning Partnership Chair, Councillor Jim Muirhead. “This is why we want to work in partnership with them in planning the way ahead in what are very challenging financial circumstances.
“Grant aid is a key mechanism in supporting this local partnership and we need to make sure that grants continue to be awarded in a fair and open way which supports the council’s priority areas and those in the greatest need.”