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General guidelines for Community Grant Applications

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Hello - I am seeking clarification on what general guidelines to apply to a Community Grant Scheme.

At present we have no clear definition of who is eligible. I've received a request from an individual who wishes to attend an international Scout Moot.
asked by (120 points)

1 Answer

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If you do not have the General Power of Competence, the powers are contained in Section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972. They relate only to charitable organisations, as parish councils do not have the power to distribute funds to individuals. Do you have a parish charity that could assist this applicant? Parish charities often have powers to fund individuals.
answered by (24k points)
Dave I have to take issue with your statement that 137 applies to only charitable organisations and I would like to discuss that point further. Now I will admit, I often find legislation difficult to understand as it is not in plain English and designed for lawyers. I have therefore cut and paste each paragraph  read it in detail, extrapolated the important bits and come up with my views. Before I do that I think there are several things which the legislation must detail. They are
a)What the power can be used for
b)What the power cant be used for
c)How much
d)To whom can it be paid
Para 1 I believe states these important facts
“incur expenditure which in their opinion is in the interests of, and will bring direct benefit to, their area or any part of it or all or some of its inhabitants”.
Summarised this means “the end product must deliver a direct benefit to some part of the PCs community and by default not to an individual (note word must)
“for a purpose for which they are, either unconditionally or subject to any limitation or to the satisfaction of any condition”
Summarised this means if a limitation applies to another power s137 cannot be used to “make good” that limitation
“will be commensurate with the expenditure to be incurred”
Self explanatory but a judgement call
So para 1 tells us what the power can and cannot be used for. It does not say to whom it can be paid (if you remember some time ago, I asked about my PCs refusal to give a grant to my doctors surgery on the basis it was a business)

Para 2 includes
“includes power to do so by contributing towards the defraying of expenditure by another local authority in or in connection with the exercise of that other authority’s functions”
This worried me as my PC has recently contributed to the Planning Objection appeal costs made by a group of PCs but it is subject to the Para 1 provisions i.e the end product must still bring a direct benefit . I believe that test is not met as if they lose there will be no benefit.
“above on publicity only by way of assistance to a public body or voluntary organisation where the publicity is incidental to the main purpose for which the assistance is given”
This appears to specifically  refer to publicity costs for public body or voluntary organisation but it does not I believe say the grants themselves can only  be paid to those organisation types?

Para 4 simply explains the financial limits and separately from para 1 adds the ability to contribute to national charity initiatives
So I believe the main thrust of s137 as it relates to in Parish projects is that the reason for the project must be to deliver a direct benefit to some part of the community but not for one individual . It does not say to whom that can be paid as it is the benefit itself which is the overriding factor

As I say, I am not a legal expert to would appreciate comments on my views as I am about to construct a case to go to the auditor.

Just to answer the community grant question I believe all of the foregoing must apply if s137 is to be used
I note that you've skipped over para 3! Section 137 applies to all tiers of government, not just parish councils. The power for parish councils is defined in paragraph (3) thus:-

"A local authority may, subject, in the case of a parish or community council, to the following provisions of this section, incur expenditure on contributions to any of the following funds, that is to say—

(a) the funds of any charitable body in furtherance of its work in the United Kingdom; or

(b) the funds of any body which provides any public service (whether to the public as a whole or to any section of it) in the United Kingdom otherwise than for the purposes of gain; or

(c) any fund which is raised in connection with a particular event directly affecting persons resident in the United Kingdom on behalf of whom a public appeal for contributions has been made by the Lord Mayor of London or the chairman of a principal council or by a committee of which the Lord Mayor of London or the chairman of a principal council is a member or by such a person or body as is referred to in section 83(3)(c) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973."

So charitable, not-for-profit, or public appeal of a very limited and specific nature. My inclination would be that a joint project with a neighbouring council (which evidently provides public services otherwise than for gain) would be acceptable in this regard, however the need for the benefit to be commensurate with the sum expended would be more challenging in the case of a planning appeal, as there is no benefit from losing.
Sorry Dave. Sometimes when you search Statute Law it seems to come up with different text. I was surprised that there was no para 3 . I will review . Thanks
PS I believe that paras 1,2 detail the circumstances under which grants can be made but they are all subject to the over riding principle that the "supported project" must bring a direct benefit to some parts of the local community. It does not say stipulate to whom it can be paid (except as it relates to publicity material) . So there is nothing to say it cant be paid to an individual, a business, a  charity or voluntary organisation. Do you agree?   Para 3 as I read it deals with payments to National Charities but is not subject to its activities bringing a direct benefit. to the local community specifically but to all communities in general
Para 3 contains the definition of section 137 for parish councils. It can only be used for those purposes and subject to the other requirements relating to local benefit commensurate with sums awarded and, in total, below the annual cap.
Where does it say in para 3 that it relates to local  schemes ?
The legislation must be read in its entirety. Para 1 explains the local benefit requirement and the relationship to other legislation. Para 2 gives collaborative powers and places a restriction on publicity. Para 3, for parish councils only, defines the beneficiaries. Para 4 defines the annual limit. You can't pick and choose individual paragraphs. They all apply in every case.
I disagree . Para 3 applies yes to PCs but it specifically says it applies  "to the following provisions of this section". It makes no mention of previous paras.

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