TIC Third Sector Funding Project
Position Statement March 2015
1.0 Project Purpose
To review spend on Third Sector services, but in doing so, ensure services are strategically commissioned and targeted at identified needs within the community to maximise return on investment.
2.0 Project Value
At the start of the project £19,217,800 was paid to voluntary and community organisations, this was during the 2013/14 financial year. The figure for 14/15 was £16,858,803. A further reduction of £1million to be identified during 15/16.
During a TIC Programme Board meeting in September 2013 Wendy Walters, then Head of Economic Development, was asked to investigate how much money the authority spent annually on the Third Sector community. This was as a result of some anecdotal information being received with regards to a lack of co-ordination of spend and strategic focus in this area.
4.0 Magnitude of Project
Initial information suggested that the authority facilitated funding in excess of £19million to the sector during 13/14 and that the figure was likely to be similar in 14/15. There were in excess of 1,000 organisations and individuals registered as being in receipt of some form of funding from the authority. This ranged in size from grants of less than £100 to over £1million.
The project has been progressed on a day to day basis by an officer working group made up of representatives from each department alongside members of the TIC team. The officer working group feeds into a steering group set up to be a challenge forum for the project. This group is made up of representatives from the Voluntary Sector, each of the three main political groups and senior officers from the Local Authority. The overall responsibility for decision making lies with the TIC Programme Board.
6.0 Progress to Date
There has been a significant amount of work undertaken on this project, particularly over the last 9 months. This has included;
● E-mails being sent to all elected members, CMT, Heads of Service and 3rd Tier officers outlining the aims of the project and raising its profile.
● Investigations as to what actions other authorities had taken to review this area of work. Specific information was received from Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Wrexham, Powys and Bridgend Local Authorities.
● The development of a governance framework, communication and engagement plan and project plan for the project.
● The development of an Impact Assessment Questionnaire which was sent to the top 200 funded organisations for completion. This questionnaire was also placed on the consultation pages of the Council and CAVS website inviting anyone who may not have received a copy to get involved and complete the questionnaire.
● To complement the questionnaires completed by the Third Sector similar questionnaires were sent to all Third Sector budget managers across the authority. The aim was that by bringing together both sets of responses we would have a more accurate picture of activities and spend.
● A Third Sector conference was held on the 20th October. The event was attended by over 140 people from the Third Sector, Local Authority and Executive Board Members. The purpose of the event was to highlight the work of the review team and the financial challenges that lay ahead.
● The officer working group have developed a scoring matrix which is being used to assess each contract / grant currently awarded to organisations.
● A number of drop in sessions for the project have been held at the CAVS offices in Carmarthen and the HUB in Llanelli in an attempt to provide further help and support to organisations.
7.0 Challenges for the Project
Whilst the project has seen good progress in a number of areas there continues to be a number of challenges, including;
● The commissioning picture for the Third Sector is a complex one and suggests a lack of coordination in places across the Authority.
● Agreeing a financial baseline for the project has been and continues to be difficult. This has been predominantly because there is no single point of information in relation to the organisations we are funding. The coding mechanisms used are open to interpretation by the depts. which prevents a single report being run on spend. Resources and experience to contract and commission varied considerably across departments.
● Contract awards and associated processes vary across the Authority.
● Contracts are being rolled over.
● Reviews of contracts are driven to meeting WAG needs rather than what’s best for our communities.
● The number of organisations/ individuals who could potentially be contacted in relation to this project run to over a thousand. Many of these are one off grants and can’t be considered however whilst every effort will be made to use a fair approach some organisations may slip through the net.
● It is clear that the ‘management’ of all these funds is very resource intensive and has also led to some organisations receiving multiple funding (the questions of duplication needs to be asked) from departments across the Authority. A review of our own systems will need to be undertaken in order to mirror that being undertaken of the Third Sector to identify further efficiencies.
● There appears to be a number of discrepancies between what the budget managers have reported as spend and possible PBB’s within their budget manager responses and what the financial information is telling us as well as what the organisations believe they are receiving.
● A number of the organisations operate under aliases making it difficult to understand the whole funding picture to organisations.
● A test of the scoring matrix on a handful of organisations suggests that the actual scoring exercises are likely to take far longer than originally anticipated. This is largely due to the quality of the information provided across the board.
8.0 Reductions identified to date
The reduction target for this project is £1million during 2015/16, the officer working group is confident of reaching this figure however some reductions will need to be identified during the actual financial year due to the timing of the contract reviews / scoring exercises.
Included within the recent round of budget consultations were a number of recommendations relating to finances within the Third Sector. This equated to £608K in 15/16, £408k for 16/17 and £179k for 17/18.
In addition to the figures above the officer working group have been reviewing all contracts and in consultation with the organisations have identified further areas of reductions. The total amount identified to date (as of 31/3/15) equates to £764,185.
9.0 Next steps
The working group has started to batch each organisation that receives funding into themes. Once this exercise is completed the officer working group along with the budget managers will start to score each organisations impact assessment questionnaire response in line with the scoring matrix and recommend any changes to the contract value. This exercise is likely to continue for the next 6 months by which time we will also be in a position to identify likely funding awards for 16/17 and 17/18.