Agenda item

Big Society Fund - Review and Refocus

















































































Options considered:

The Big Society Fund was established in 2012. The purpose of the fund is to help build strong and vibrant communities in North Norfolk through the delivery of projects that improve social and economic wellbeing.


The annual funding for the Big Society Fund is currently £225,000, with the maximum grant award being £15,000.

Decisions on grant applications are made by a politically balanced Panel who meet four times a year.


The fund has now been in operation for eight years. During that time it has awarded over 260 grants totalling approximately £1,960,000 to 211 organisations in 94 parishes across North Norfolk. End of Grant reports from successful grant applicants plus feedback from communities, Members and individuals demonstrates the importance and value of the fund and the significant difference it has made to communities across North Norfolk.


A review of the Big Society Fund in conjunction with the funds Chair and Vice Chair identified a number of areas for improvement and refocus. The aim of the fund and the purpose for which a grant can be awarded has also been reviewed to ensure it meets both Council’s priorities and community need in North Norfolk.


As a result, it is proposed that a number of changes are made to the fund. This will enable a wider range of organisations to apply to the fund for projects that will benefit their communities.


It is proposed that name of the fund will change from the Big Society Fund to the North Norfolk Sustainable Communities Fund. Sustainable Communities are places in which people want to live and work, now and in the future. They meet the diverse needs of existing and future residents, are sensitive to their environment, and contribute to a high quality of life.


The fund will be more closely aligned to the key priorities identified in the Councils Corporate Plan specifically Climate, Coast and Environment and Quality of Life.


This report seeks approval from 1st June 2020 to:


·         Change the name of the fund to The North Norfolk Sustainable Communities Fund


·         Refocus the fund and give additional weighting to projects with positive environmental outcomes and those which promote the physical and mental health and wellbeing of communities.


·         Require applicants to demonstrate how their project is accessible and inclusive


·         Give applications for revenue and capital funding equal priority. Revenue costs could include staff or volunteer training.


·         No longer fund 100% of a project. All applications will be expected to identify a level of match funding


·         Establish a simplified application process for projects requesting a grant of up to £1,000. Decisions will on these application will be made each month by the Chair and Vice Chair of the fund and reported to the next Panel. Currently all eligible applications are presented to the Panel which has authority to make grant awards up to a maximum limit of £15,000.



Option 1 – Not to make any changes to the Big Society Fund process or criteria. The review has identified areas where the criteria of the fund needs to change to ensure it reflect key Council priorities, is more equitable, encourages accessibility and utilises the budget more effectively.

This option is not recommended


Option 2 – To accept the recommendations in the report to change the name and refocus the fund. This will encourage a wider and more diverse range of projects from communities across North Norfolk. It will align with and support the delivery of identified Council priorities in respect of Quality of Life and Climate, Coast and Environment.

This option is recommended





Since it was established in 2012, grants awarded by the Big Society Fund have contributed to the delivery of 260 projects that have helped improve social and economic wellbeing and build strong and vibrant communities in North Norfolk. The renaming and refocussing of the fund will build upon this legacy and ensure that The North Norfolk Sustainable Communities Fund supports projects that meet key Council priorities, widens the criteria to fund a wider range of organisations and communities, and promote accessibility and the effective use of the budget.









Reasons for Recommendations:


That Cabinet resolves to accept the recommendations in the report to rename and refocus the Big Society Fund and to delegate the consequential changes to the Fund’s prospectus to the Head of Economic & Community Development, in consultation with the portfolio Holder for Culture & wellbeing.


To ensure the fund reflects Council priorities, enables more organisations and communities to apply for funding to make their communities sustainable.


To utilise the fund to build sustainable communities and demonstrate the Council’s commitment to respond to the Climate Emergency it declared in 2019.




Cabinet Member(s)

Cllr Virginia Gay

Ward(s) affected – all across North Norfolk

Contact Officer, telephone number and email:

Sonia Shuter, 01263 516173 email


Supporting documents: