Budget allocation of additional rural services delivery grant
Decision Maker: Cabinet member Infrastructure and transport
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: Yes
To agree the approach to allocating additional budget of £275k for 2019/20 towards additional support for local community transport initiatives and local solutions to maintain access in rural communities noting continuing financial pressures on support for the conventional bus network.
The details of the grant programme have been developed in the context of the 2017 passenger transport review which included extensive consultation and following discussion with local community transport providers. Criteria for accessing the grant will ensure that projects which will support older people, people with disabilities and rural residents without access to private car or public transport are prioritised.
The original decision to provide additional funding indicated that this should be to establish a grant for the purchase of new accessible vehicles for community transport providers. The recommendation is to support a broader range of projects and for it to be made available for a wider range of community groups, with community transport providers being given first opportunity to submit bids. This approach was developed following discussion with community transport providers during which they indicated that they could improve their services if the funding could be allocated for a broader range of activities including:
" New vehicles for community transport use
" Software to help plan journeys
" Schemes to support access for young people
" Initiatives to attract more volunteer drivers
" Schemes which will feed into and support existing transport services
" Scheme which use social media and smart technologies to increase access
" Brokerage - making greater use of vehicles available in the local community
Whilst the proposed approach will give community transport providers the first opportunity to bid for grant funding it also allows for further rounds to be opened up to other community groups. This will be subject to funds being available after the first round. This is proposed as it reflects the findings of the passenger transport review that other community groups including parish councils and other local charities can play an important role in supporting local access and will add to the overall capacity of the grant programme.
(a) a Rural Access Grant Scheme be approved with:
· a non-recurring budget of £275k
· scheme criteria as set out in appendix 1;
· grant allocations and spend being completed by 31 March 2021; and s
the head of service for transport and access be authorised to determine grant awards to a maximum of £30k in accordance with the approved scheme criteria, and having regard to the recommendation of the appraisal panel.
Alternative options considered:
1. Not to allocate the additional funds to support rural access. This is not recommended as this would not be in accordance with the decision of Council when it approved the budget on 15 February 2019.
2. Whilst the budgetary provision agreed by Council indicated that the funds would be targeted at funding new vehicles for community transport services, the community transport providers have indicated that this would not be their preference and would welcome a broader range of uses for funding. Hence, the option of targeting the funds narrowly for the purchase of new vehicles is not recommended as this does not appear to meet the needs of the community transport sector.
3. To limit access to the funding to community transport providers. This is not recommended as it is considered that a wider network of community groups should be supported through this fund noting that community transport providers have differing capacities across the county and it is possible that effective solutions to support rural access may come from parish councils, other dedicated charitable and community groups. The recommended approach does however include a first round allocation of funds limited to the community transport providers and for subsequent rounds to be open to the wider community.
4. If further funding was made available the grant scheme could be expanded/extended. This would be informed by assessment of the demand for funding in the first rounds and monitoring of project delivery which will help determine best practice approaches which are proven to be effective in improving rural access.
5. To make the funding subject to the applicant providing match funding (this would be a minimum amount or proportion which the applicant would need to secure in addition to that which would be bid for from this programme). This is not recommended as a mandatory requirement as there are limited funds available for rural transport and access and it would preclude many community groups from applying for grant. Match funding would help prioritise bids in the event that the programme is oversubscribed.
Wards Affected: (All Wards);
Contact: Steve Burgess, Head of transport and access services Email: email@example.com Tel: 01432260968.
Publication date: 13/02/2020
Date of decision: 13/02/2020
Effective from: 20/02/2020