A £150,000 kick-start is being given to a brand new fund to help small organisations become stronger in Milton Keynes.
The council admits that until now its support for community and voluntary organisations has been ‘fragmented’ and in need of improvement.
After receiving an initial £150,000 in April, the fund will receive £50,000 each year. It is due to be officially launched in May.
Councillor Moriah Priestley, the council’s cabinet member for economic development and community partnerships, gave her blessing to the launch of the new fund at a delegated decisions meeting on Tuesday, March 19.
She said: “I am excited by this new fund, which we have been working on for the last couple of months. It brings together a number of funding streams and will be available to smaller groups and clubs and targeted at the voluntary sector.”
She said this might be scout groups, sports clubs, and knitting groups which are vital to the development of the community in Milton Keynes.
A report to Cllr Priestley said that council funding had been ‘fragmented’ and often on a one-off basis, to avert closures, and to organisations that support the council’s equality and diversity agenda.
“Whilst the council is not a major grant funder, it does allocate some funding, and the way it does this is in need of improvement,” said the report.
“Milton Keynes Council has a strong commitment to supporting our local voluntary and community sector despite the challenging financial environment the council faces.”
A group is currently developing the criteria organisations will need to meet in order to get funding.
The MK Community Foundation is an independent charity which generates around £2M in funds annually to invest in the local voluntary and community sector. It will receive a fixed fee from the council for administering the programme.
Council officers say that because Milton Keynes Community Foundation is a well-established, properly constituted local organisation with experience of successfully managing grant programmes, there would be a low financial risk into entering into a partnership with them.