Many people will know about the ward discretionary fund, a pot of money given to ward councillors that local groups and organisations can apply to for financial assistance. Every year we assist a wide range of local projects, from local events to village maintenance schemes. This year we have decided to change how we operate the fund, to give residents a bigger say as to how it’s spent. This follows a successful pilot of Participatory Budgeting when students from each of the area’s High Schools decided the funding priority. We’ve listened to some of the criticism of the pilot scheme, where more rural areas felt it was biassed against them. So there will be safeguards to ensure rural areas don’t lose out on funding. This is how the fund will work in this financial year:
What level of funding is available?
Members have set aside £15,000 per Ward to be allocated by Participatory Budgeting – this is an approach used where the public decide how the funds are distributed. Groups and organisations can submit a bid for the public to consider. Further detail of this will be announced but at present, it is planned that voting will take place in September 2016. Please note that bid limits will apply for the Participatory Budgeting funds, to be announced soon.
A further £19,055 per Ward is available for allocation by Ward Elected Members for applications that clearly demonstrate a need for funding to be awarded before the Participatory Budgeting process takes place – ie. you may have an event you wish to run in July 2016.
Members have this year set a maximum award limit of £500 for any events being applied for that is leisure or entertainment focussed. A £250 maximum award limit has also been applied for school trip activity, per school/per year.
How and when do I apply?
We will call for applications for the Participatory Budgeting funds in due course. This will be announced in the local press, via posters and social media as well as promoted on the Highland Council website.
If your application is pressing and you have demonstrated it cannot wait for the public vote process, you can submit an application at any time. You will be advised when your application is to be considered after it has gone through our pre-assessment process. Please allow up to 6 weeks from the submission of your application to notification of the outcome.