New grant initiative to help host activities for children age 5-19 in Hartlepool

Councillors have given the go-ahead for a new activities grant to give organisations the chance to gain funds to provide activities for young people.

Monday, 25th March 2019, 10:14 am
Updated Monday, 25th March 2019, 10:18 am
Hartlepool Borough Council leader, Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s Finance and Policy Committee moved to support the 5-19 activities grant initiative for a six-month period which offers organisations the chance to apply for up to £50,000 of matched funding to host activities programmes for young people.

However several conditions are in place for organisations to get the money to prove they can support sustainable programmes.

The meeting was held at Hartlepool Civic Centre

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These include monthly reports monitoring performance and organisations providing an exit strategy by June 30 to manage the non-recurrent nature of the funding.

The funding will come from the council child and family poverty reserve, with uncommitted funds currently standing at £35,000.

However, it will be boosted by a windfall from the council sale of the King John’s Tavern to JD Wetherspoon when finalised.

Councillors said the new activities grant provides a balance between dealing with austerity and providing activities for young people in the town.

Council leader Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher said: “This is a new grant going forward.

“I picked up from children’s services that it must be matched funding, it’s about reaching the right children to engage with the services going forward.

“We needed a robust performance monitoring that has to be adhered to, any funding is conditional on that robust monitoring.”

Coun Kevin Cranney said: “I totally support the community and voluntary sector and how they interact.

“It worries me that in these times of austerity and the cuts that we face we’re asking for a lot of money to be allocated for some activities.

“I welcome the recommendation of the matched funding. I’m really supportive of this, young people if they’re going to be attending youth groups, that’s where they learn life skills and that’s where they become model citizens for the future.”

It comes after the council’s children’s services committee previously rejected providing £100,000 to the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) Consortium to extend its previous Children’s 5-19 Activities Grant for a further 12 months.

Councillors on the children’s services committee had expressed concerns the consortium had not secured additional external funding, despite reassurances.

Council bosses had several years ago moved to cease commissioning the grant and had twice given six-month extensions to the consortium to help fund activities for children.

Therefore the committee moved to decline providing further funding for the group and instead wanted to use funding to explore new initiatives and projects that could reach a greater number of children.

Councillors backed the new grant with praise for the strict accountability arrangements to prove how the funding is being used.

Coun Brenda Harrison said: “I welcome the change in tone, the children’s services committee made their decision based on, I would say partly a lack of transparency and a lack of accountability on the services that were involved.

“In order to make it very transparent and robust in accountability I would welcome the changes.

“I think it’s an excellent idea to not give the money if the reports aren’t coming in on a monthly basis. That’s where the accountability is.

“We’ve got to think of all the children between the ages of 5 and 19.”

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service