The report was introduced by Charles Barlow (Delivery Lead, Communities and Partnerships Service). He reminded members the Social Impact Fund had been agreed by Cabinet in October 2021 to help build stronger communities. It had targeted geographical areas that had experienced higher than average instances of Covid and groups that had experienced increased rates of isolation, such as financial, social or health-related issues. Projects applying for funding needed to align to at least one of the Council Plan outcomes, one of the core themes of the Voluntary and Community Sector Strategy, and the Community Powered Warwickshire approach. Additional projects needed to help reduce climate change and support local biodiversity. The Fund had been launched prior to the approach to Levelling Up being implemented. Revenue and capital funding was used on a 60:40 split.
Charles Barlow said 21 projects received funding; of those, 16 received capital funding which was required to be spent within 15 months of approval, and the remaining five received revenue funding that needed to be spent within 18 months. Most of the projects were on track to be completed on time. Two projects had been delayed but it was likely both would proceed soon. Charles Barlow said operation of the Fund was commissioned to the Heart of England Community Foundation, who had been able to signpost applicants to up to 50 different funding streams.
Members were told the Social Fabric Fund was due to be launched later in the month. Learning from the implementation of the Social Impact Fund had helped to inform the thinking of how it would work and improve embedding of the Community Powered approach to prioritise delivery of levelling up outcomes, primarily in the 22 Lower Super Output Areas as these were in the 20 per cent most deprived nationally. A further update report would be provided in early 2024.
Responding to a question from Councillor Sarah Boad, Charles Barlow said there had been 52 applications for funding. In response to Councillor Boad noting a large proportion of projects which were successful in their application were from Leamington Brunswick, Charles Barlow said this would be because there were higher Covid rates there at the time and the applications were stronger. Covid rates had been provided by Public Health. Charles Barlow said there had been a good geographical spread of applications.
Councillor Tim Sinclair noted some dummy text had been included in the summary of awards and asked if this could be updated. He also suggested the report could outline in more detail how the different projects were chosen, to pre-empt queries from members who noted that no projects in their ward had been successful in their application for funding.
Responding to a question from Councillor Sarah Feeney, Charles Barlow said fuller details of the impact the funding had had for the successful applicants would be provided in the next update report.
Members noted the contents of the report.