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£10m funding package announced for community projects and local groups

Lewisham Council has approved a £10m funding package to invest in community projects and support local groups, following a meeting of Mayor and Cabinet on Tuesday evening.

Nearly £3m will be invested in community projects, with an additional £7m to be made available to voluntary and community groups over the next three years through the Council’s Main Grants Programme.

Investing in community infrastructure projects

£2.93m of Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy (NCIL) funding will be spent on community infrastructure projects across the borough, with residents helping decide which projects the money will be spent on in their local area.

The funding comes from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), which the Council charges on new developments in Lewisham. Neighbourhood CIL (NCIL) is used to invest in community infrastructure in the local area, helping to address the impact of new developments on local residents.

Each of Lewisham’s 18 wards will receive their own pot of NCIL funding, based on the amount of new development in the area and the index of multiple deprivation (IMD). This will ensure a fair distribution of funding throughout the borough, as well as helping to tackle inequalities and invest money in more deprived areas, with Lewisham believed to be the first local authority to allocate NCIL funding in this way.

Residents in each ward have already identified local priorities for their area and the types of projects they want to see delivered, following a consultation process involving over 13,000 people across the borough. Applications will open later this month and residents and community groups across Lewisham’s 18 wards will be invited to propose projects that match the chosen priorities in each area, as well as any community projects that will support the borough’s recovery from COVID-19.

Once bids have been submitted and reviewed, residents will help decide which projects they want to see delivered at their local assembly meetings. A recommendation will be made to Mayor and Cabinet for approval, with project delivery expected to commence from March 2022.

Supporting local groups through the Main Grants Programme

The Council’s Main Grants Programme has also been renewed for 2022-25, following extensive consultation with voluntary and community groups in Lewisham.

Despite the challenges posed by central government cuts, the Council has committed more than £7 million in grant funding over the next three years, with local groups set to receive £2.36 million each year to support their work in the community.

In recognition of the difficult circumstances many groups are facing, a new team of community fundraisers will be funded through the programme and hosted by the voluntary and community sector, in order to assist local organisations with fundraising. The introduction of new partnership grants will also help encourage collaborative working between the Council and the voluntary and community sector.

In line with the Council’s ‘Future Lewisham’ vision, the programme will focus on three key priorities – an economically sound future, a healthy and well future, and a future that we all have a part in – helping to support the borough’s recovery from COVID-19.

Consultation with local community groups found high levels of support for these proposals and applications for grant funding will open later this month, with a number of workshops taking place to support local groups with the application process and ensure fair access for all.

Cllr Kim Powell, Cabinet Member for Business and Community Wealth Building, said:

“We have a proud record of investing in our local communities, even when faced with the challenges of austerity and central government cuts.

“By involving our local communities in decisions around NCIL funding, residents will get a real say on the investment they want to see in their local area and the community projects that will benefit them most.

“Our voluntary and community sector has been vital in supporting local residents throughout the pandemic and I am delighted that we will continue to fund them through our Main Grants Programme.

“We know many local groups are still facing significant financial pressures, so the new community fundraising team will be vital in helping them access additional external funding and ensure Lewisham’s voluntary and community sector continues to thrive.”

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