Each Cornwall Councillor has a small pot (£2195) to give to local organisations in the form of community grants. At the start of our term we were told that there were few restrictions and, whilst there would be a checklist for officers to make sure that monies were not being mis-used, there would be no complex forms for local groups to fill in before they get the money.
Then, in September, we were told that there would, in fact, be a form. And boy, what a form it is.
It runs to eleven pages and asks for all sorts of information that could not possibly be needed in order to assess the application.
I hear from colleagues that there are some organisations that have chosen not to apply for a grant because of the complexity of the form. Others are having to be helped by officers to fill in the form.
Once filled in, there will be more bureaucratic box ticking so that officers can present a report claiming the strategic objectives are being met.
Whilst I understand that we need to make sure that funds are not being mis-used, the scheme looks like it is being set up to keep bureaucrats in jobs rather than fund local inititatives.
And so I have today got agreement from Lance Kennedy, the Cabinet Member in charge of the scheme, to look at the forms again. I hope that this can be done immediately so that no organisations are put off applying for a grant this year. Regrettably, I suspect that it will be a long and slow process which needs to be signed off at all stages.
On a separate note, it is very disappointing that the overall grant pot is so small. The amount was meant to be £6,600 per member but got reduced in the first year because the council came into being late. Lance Kennedy promised to review the amount for next year, but it now appears that he has lost the battle and so we will get less than half the amount again next year.
I have asked Lance to look again at the amount and see whether it can be increased as the bureaucracy is cut.