A green light for development?

New housing developments in our area are set to become more attractive to builders as Central Beds Council seeks to change the amount of money developers have to pay as compensation to existing communities.

In the past, when developers built new houses, they had to pay what was known as ‘Section 106’ money to Central Beds, which would then be spent on infrastructure and other projects in the local community affected, such as roads and community buildings e.g. the proposed new hall for Potton will be part-funded by money generated from the planned Biggleswade Road development.

However, the system is to be replaced with the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). The council are proposing to split Central Beds into 3 zones with the same CIL charge applied on every development in each zone as opposed to the old system where the amount levied on a developer was agreed on a case-by-case basis1. You can see the appeal for the council’s planning department.

CIL-Charging schedule2

It doesn’t take a genius to work out which area might be more appealing to build in! And what concerns me is that Potton, Biggleswade and Sandy, and its surrounds, are in Area C.

CIL-Ward Map

If you look at the map showing the whole of the region, the area around Biggleswade, Sandy and Potton will require a lower CIL contribution for developers than not just the nearby areas of Central Beds but ALL surrounding local authorities. You can see it on the map of all the neighbouring authorities as a blue island surrounded by green. It’s a bit like having a big flag up saying ‘Build here!’.

CIL-Map

I feel it is no coincidence the far flung corner of the county is being singled out again, when the local development plans do not suggest there is a desire for more development.

The council says  “charges reflect the differences in sales values for houses that can be achieved in each of the areas” i.e. average house prices in Area C are lower so developers might make less money so they’re being offered offered a lower CIL as an incentive to build there.

But…I dug out some numbers3 for house prices for the areas Central Beds have shown on their map. As you can see on the graph there isn’t a huge amount of difference between the three zones. Indeed, some in Area A (e.g. Slip End) are actually cheaper than many in Area C and some in Area C (e.g. Dunton) are more expensive than most in Area A ! So the figures don’t really support their argument. Meanwhile, the area to the south of Luton appears to be in zone A with relatively little justification. The map of recent new builds shows the lowest growth in number of houses is Caddington but yet it is in Area A meaning a very high CIL, discouraging development.

CIL - Average house prices text updated

CIL - Updated land registry

CIL - housing per ward

It’s also worth noting that with CIL, only 15% 4 of the development money will go to the parish/town council in the community affected. The rest will be kept by Central Beds and used where the council sees fit.

With the old system, the money had to be spent in the area in question. Council officers – who are apolitical – decided on what that money could be spent. With CIL, the vast majority of the money being collected will go into a central pool and the decision as to where it will be spent will be taken by councillors so it can become a political decision. So for example, a big development could be built on the edge of Sandy or Biggleswade and 80% of the developer’s contributions could be spent in Leighton Buzzard.

The council is also stating it will charge 5% of all CIL fees as an administration charge which won’t have to be spent on infrastructure!

So what can we do?

Central Beds Council is obliged by the government to listen to what we say and is running a consultation until 24th August but it…

– doesn’t give us the opportunity to comment on whether councillors or officers decide how CIL is spent.

– won’t let us say whether 15% of the money going to the parish/town council in the area is right.

– doesn’t allow us to comment on the council’s 5% levy of all fees.

– won’t mean the council is obliged to change anything even if everyone who replied to the consultation opposed it.

But you CAN comment on whether you think it’s right that developers would have to pay far less to develop around Biggleswade, Sandy, Potton and other local villages. In my opinion, there is no inherent reason the council must have CIL contributions that vary across Central Beds. They could have the same contributions everywhere.

So go to: http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/surveys/CIL/cil.htm

And let them know what you think.

The questions which allow comment are questions 15 and 18. Question 14 makes mention of the ‘draft charging schedule’. That is the table of rates mentioned above (and attached) which shows how different CIL levies are offered for different areas.

Please share this far and wide, it doesn’t just affect Potton, Biggleswade and Sandy and the surrounding villages but all parts of Central Beds.

What happens next?

Regardless of what happens with the consultation, an Independent Inspector still gets to take a look, so it’s vital as many people respond as possible because an independent inspector will get to see comments made.

It’s worth doing as last year the council approved a Gypsy/Traveller site consultation and only withdrew it when an independent inspector criticised the plan citing many of the concerns made by the public during public consultation.

Central Beds have provided lots of supporting documents here for the consultation here:

http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/planning/strategic-planning/cil.aspx


Notes

1 Section 106 will still operate for social housing and for some specific measures, such as access roads or children’s play areas.

2  Full details here: http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/Images/Draft%20Charging%20Schedule%20Rates%20Final%20Draft_tcm6-67667.pdf

3 All my data from average house prices is from the Land Registry’s website for the financial year ending 2013/14. The reason it is for 2013/14 not 2014/15 is because I wanted to use exactly the same data the council did for their analysis. They used 2013/14 as when they did their research last year, this was the last complete financial year. I checked it against Rightmove data for the last 12 months and found the results (in terms of which areas were cheaper or more expensive than others) much the same.

I asked the council to explain how they came-up with the zones. They told me they commissioned a study by property consultants in 2014 and they have provided me with a copy. My main observations are:

i) Estimates of land values aren’t very recent e.g. a benchmark value of £330k/ha is given for development on greenfield sites but this is taken from a study by one property advisor, two years ago. Likewise, a figure of £650k-900k/ha is given for land in towns and villages and this is taken from a study by estate agents as far back as 2009-10. The report acknowledges “data from Land Registry shows that land for development… in Central Bedfordshire transacts at a variety of prices per hectare. This includes some substantial land holdings being transferred at prices considerably below the benchmarks used in the 2013 study, with examples dating from 2009 including 23ha being bought for £60,000/ha, another 23ha being bought for £100,000/ha and 7ha being bought for £200,000/ha. With one plot of land sold for £3 million per ha”. Despite these comments, estimates from 2013 and 2009-10 are used as part of the process to decide what the CIL contributions would be for each of the three areas.

ii) The consultants acknowledge they have tried to take account of ‘new builds’ in their report but only 1 in 8 properties sold in Central Beds last year were ‘new builds’.

iii) They acknowledge the local estate agents they spoke to had had few house sales to consider “and therefore it was difficult to come to a definitive view”.

iv) When considering variations in property prices across Central Beds, the report states the consultants used a third party to analyse land registry data on prices paid on new and existing houses and flats. A weighting was then applied to existing house sales to come-up with house price estimates in the different zones. They then adjusted for recent Rightmove prices and information based on face to face interviews with estate agents and email and phone consultations with house builders.

The council told me they could not show me a final adjusted property price figure per district as calculated by the consultants they used because they hadn’t been given one.

I also calculated the average price for the towns and villages in Area A as £273,665 while for Area C it was £193,734 which is a ratio of 1.4:1; hardly justifying the 3:1 ratio of CIL contributions from Area A to Area C. The attached table of figures shows all the data and the graph makes it really clear. For the graph I’ve only included districts where more than 10 houses were sold. By the way, the 1.4:1 ratio was the same when I checked the figures for a year later.

The graph showing average prices by district only shows districts where 10 or more property values were available for the year in question, to ensure the sample is large enough to be meaningful.

4  If a parish/town council has a Neighbourhood Plan in place, this rises to 25% but NONE of them do, to date, as a Neighbourhood Plan is a very detailed document which is very expensive (we’re talking tens of thousands) and extremely time-consuming to create. It’s not going to be ideal for parish councils. In addition, many councils have much cynicism towards these plans because it’s less than 10 years since since they were asked to produce parish/town plans which now have to be superceded.

Attached images

Table of proposed CIL rates

CIL rate map of our region

CIL rate map of Central Beds

Recent average property prices within each district

Recent housebuilding within each ward

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Posted in Uncategorized

Latest news on superfast broadband – Dunton deserted?

Superfast broadband should now be available in Potton and Everton. Please contact your provider if you want to upgrade to a superfast package.

I’m told much of Wrestlingworth’s new infrastructure should be in place by September of this year.

For the rest of our ward, BT have just provided their response to the tender the council put out earlier this year. See here for the full story about the tender process: https://adamzerny.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/superfast-broadband-update/

Central Beds are now in negotiations with BT but I understand the contract is likely to be agreed by early May.

BT’s offer provides coverage for 97% of Central Beds and does now include for the first time Cockayne Hatley, Eyeworth, Tempsford, Edworth and Sutton. However BT’s initial plans mean they are only down as being completed by 2019. I will be pushing for this to be sooner; the timescale is decided by BT.

I have also investigated satellite broadband and there is like to be further guidance from the government soon as to how this might work. I understand it is unlikely anything will be in place until September of this year, at the earliest, and any installation won’t be until 2016. More information can be found here:
https://www.cable.co.uk/news/government-to-subsidise-satellite-broadband-for-rural-residents-700000532/

This leaves Dunton.

Dunton was to be included in an earlier stage – full details here: https://adamzerny.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/superfast-broadband-update – but BT found the cost much higher than they’d initially expected. BT have finally now confirmed they’ve accepted the cost of covering Dunton is too high (I understand it’s only £10,000-15,000). It was this delay which meant Dunton couldn’t be included in the tender Central Beds did earlier this year. As BT have now declared the cost commercially unviable, it means it is eligible for state aid.

I’ve been speaking to Central Beds who will now looking at whether they can find any extra funding via savings in the future scheme mentioned above.

One option for Dunton is that Central Bedfordshire is also eligible for a Connection Vouchers Scheme which means small and medium-sized businesses, registered charities, social enterprises and sole traders can get a superfast broadband connection with a voucher worth up to £3,000, to help them get connected. They can club together to make their vouchers go further but unfortunately it looks unlikely that any lines that would go in would be able to benefit homes.
http://destinationdigital.info/vouchers%3Chttp:/track.vuelio.uk.com/z.z?l=aHR0cDovL3d3dy5kZXN0aW5hdGlvbmRpZ2l0YWwuaW5mby92b3VjaGVycw%3d%3d&r=4925210817&d=1136487&p=1&t=h&h=85a760371e47abcc6f02e8b467ca95ff%3Chttp://www.destinationdigital.info/vouchers%3Chttp://track.vuelio.uk.com/z.z?l=aHR0cDovL3d3dy5kZXN0aW5hdGlvbmRpZ2l0YWwuaW5mby92b3VjaGVycw%3d%3d&r=4925210817&d=1136487&p=1&t=h&h=85a760371e47abcc6f02e8b467ca95ff
This a first come, first served scheme, operating until 30 March 2016, but finishing sooner than this if the national pot of £40million runs out. So, if you are interested, the sooner you apply the better.

I’ve also been in touch with Dunton residents who are looking at other options.

Watch this space for any updates and let me know if you have any questions on any aspect. Contact me at @adamzerny@hotmail.co.uk .

Adam

Posted in Uncategorized

£250,000 for a replacement bill?

On the same day you vote for your MP and Central Beds councillor (and maybe even town or parish councillor), if you live in Bedfordshire, you’ll also get the chance to vote on whether the Beds Police & Crime Commissioner, Olly Martins should get a 15.8% increase in council tax funding.

Mr Martins’ reasons can be seen here:
http://www.bedfordshire.pcc.police.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/BPCC_REG_11.pdf

In order for the police to receive the 15.8% increase, council tax bills in Central Beds, Luton and Bedford have, legally, been increased by this amount in advance of the vote itself.

However, if the public vote against the rise you will be sent a revised reduced bill. Olly Martins has confirmed these new bills will cost the three councils some £250,000 to send out. The councils will in turn bill the police for this.

Some might suggest it would make more sense to offer a council tax rebate the following year instead, but according to Central Beds Council:

“Local authorities have the discretion to rebill, refund or roll any credit forward into the next financial year. All three Bedfordshire authorities have decided that the most expedient and efficient option would be to rebill all residents.”

So it looks like come 8th May, Mr Martins will either have £4.5m more or £250,000 less to spend.

Posted in Uncategorized

Bridges instead of level crossings?

I’ve been in touch with a company called WSP who are working on behalf of Network Rail who in turn are considering building bridges to replace the level crossings in Everton and Tempsford.

It’s beginning to look very likely the bridges will go ahead. WSP have undertaken feasibility studies for their construction are now working on the funding. Provisionally, they are expecting the bridges to be in place in 2019/20.

Here are the maps:

Everton
Everton

Tempsford
Tempsford

Posted in Uncategorized

Potential sources of funding

If you have a project or event that needs funding it might be worth taking a look at some of these options. If you have any luck, let me know!

Protecting Playing Fields – Sport England

The Protecting Playing Fields funding programme is part of Sport England’s strategy which is focused on helping more people acquire lifelong sporting habits. It will invest in capital projects to either create new natural turf pitches or improve existing ones that need levelling or drainage works.  The programme is being delivered via funding rounds with approximately £4 million being awarded to projects in each round. The first six rounds of funding have benefited 399 projects.
Grants are available between £10,000 and £65,000.  Local authorities can apply for up to £100,000.
Round 7 opened on 10 December 2014 and will close on 9 February 2015.  Decisions will be made in April 2015.
http://www.sportengland.org/funding/our-different-funds/protecting-playing-fields/

Get Healthy, Get Active – Sport England
The Get Healthy, Get Active fund aims to:
• get more inactive people playing sport once a week for at least 30 minutes;
• achieve a better understanding of sports contribution to improving public health and the prevention, treatment and management of long term conditions;
• enable sport and physical activity to be regularly commissioned to meet a wider range of agendas but particularly focusing on reducing health and social care costs;
• achieve a reduction in health inequalities
Applications must be submitted by 26 January 2015.
http://www.sportengland.org/funding/our-different-funds/get-healthy-get-active/

Grants for War Memorials – War Memorials Trust
This scheme, funded by English Heritage and The Wolfson Foundation and administered by War Memorials Trust, is currently being reviewed.  As such, information may be subject to amendment in the near future.  A maximum of 75% of eligible costs are available up to a maximum grant of £30,000.  Eligible projects are:
• Freestanding war memorials in England with no other functional purpose than as a war memorial (plaques, bridges and buildings, for example are ineligible)
• Projects must be over £3,000 to be eligible
Eligible works include: urgent and necessary repairs and structural stabilisation; cleaning, under certain circumstances; works relating to ‘hard’ landscaping which form an integral part of the design of the memorial; reinstatement of lost elements which form an integral part of the design of the memorial when supported by historical evidence.
Ineligible works include: new war memorials; works to graves of any type; maintenance; alterations or additions to the original design; relocation; addition of names; cosmetic cleaning; work which has already started or been completed.
Annual deadlines are 31 March, 30 June, 30 September and 31 December.  The scheme is currently confirmed until 2015.
http://www.warmemorials.org/grantsforwarmemorials/

Neighbourhood Planning Local Authority Grants – Department for Communities & Local Government
Local planning authorities can take advantage of a £12 million funding pot to help them meet the cost of their responsibilities and to support local communities preparing Neighbourhood Plans.
Local planning authorities can claim £5,000 for each neighbourhood plan area designated, up to a maximum of 20 areas per year. They can also claim a further £5,000 for each ‘neighbourhood forum’ designated.
A further £5,000 can be claimed by the local planning authority when a parish or neighbourhood forum submits a neighbourhood plan (or neighbourhood development order) to them for examination.
The local planning authority can claim a final £20,000 for each successful examination of a neighbourhood plan or order. In business areas an additional £10,000 is available to reflect the need for an additional referendum.
There will be four opportunities for local authorities to submit claims in 2015/16. There will be windows between 1 and 30 June, 1 and 30 September, 1 and 31 December and a final window between 1 and 31 March.  See the website for more details.
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/23-million-to-get-more-neighbourhood-plans-across-England

Childcare Business Grants Scheme – Government Equalities Office
The new Childcare Business Grants Scheme has been introduced to boost the provision of childcare in England and to incentivise entrepreneurship. It will encourage and support the starting up of new childcare businesses by providing a flat rate start-up grant of:
• £250 for new childminding businesses setting up in England (those who are looking after one or more children under the age of 8 years, to whom they are not related, on domestic premises, for reward and for a total of more than 2 hours in any day);
• £500 for new childminding businesses, as above, that will provide care for disabled children (applicants will need to demonstrate that they have incurred additional expenditure in setting up their business as a result of this);
• £500 for new nursery, out of school club, or childcare on domestic premises setting up in England.
The scheme was due to finish in March 2014 but has been extended to December 2014. The government has subsequently announced a further £2 million extension for the existing Childcare Business Grant scheme to cover 2015-16. The scheme will, therefore, continue to accept application forms after 31st December 2014.
http://www.childcarebusinessgrants.dcms.gov.uk/

Rural Community Energy Fund
The Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) supports rural communities in England to develop renewable energy projects which provide economic and social benefits to the community.  The fund will provide up to approximately £150,000 of funding for feasibility and pre-planning development work to help projects become investment ready. RCEF provides support in two stages:
• Stage 1 provides a grant of up to approximately £20,000 to pay for an initial investigation into the feasibility of a renewable energy project.
• Stage 2 provides an unsecured loan of up to approximately £130,000 to support planning applications and develop a robust business case to attract further investment.
The fund is being delivered on behalf of the government by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). Applications will be reviewed on a monthly basis and there is no set deadline for bids
http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/rural-community-energy-fund

Urban Community Energy Fund
The Urban Community Energy Fund (UCEF) is the urban counterpart to the RCEF and was launched on 13 November 2014.  UCEF is a £10m fund to kick-start renewable energy generation projects in urban communities across England. Community groups will be able to access grants and loans to support renewable energy developments.
Grants of up to £20,000 are available for the more speculative, early stages of a project’s development, such as public consultation and preliminary viability studies.
UCEF will also provide loans of up to £130,000 to develop planning applications and a robust business case to attract further investment. This is intended to help projects become ‘investment ready’, that is, at the right stage to secure a bank loan or another form of investment.
The first application deadline was 22 December 2014 with further deadlines at the end of January, February and March 2015.  From April 2015 application deadlines are likely to be every second month.
https://www.gov.uk/urban-community-energy-fund

Third Sector Loan Fund – Social Investment Business
This fund, announced in November 2014, is managed by Social and Sustainable Capital and seeks to invest between £250,000 and £3 million in charities and social enterprises across the UK.  The Fund can support organisations across all social sectors, focused on improving the economic and social well-being of individuals, particularly those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged.
To be eligible for investment, organisations must demonstrate the following:
• Be a registered charity or social enterprise
• Be based and have operations in the UK
• Have a clear social mission with significant, measurable, direct outcomes
• Be led by a strong management with proven capability to deliver
• Have a robust business plan and financial projections
• A clear demonstration of how investment repayment will be made
• Have good corporate governance
http://www.sibgroup.org.uk/third-sector-loan-fund/

Disabled Artist Commission Awards – Unlimited
Unlimited is a scheme for arts by disabled artists, managed by Artsadmin and Shape, funded by Arts Council England, Arts Council Wales, Creative Scotland and Spirit of 2012 to create high quality, extraordinary art by disabled artists and get that work seen by diverse audiences.
England, Scotland and Wales based disabled artists and companies with a strong track record in their artistic field are invited to apply to create and present new work, across all art forms.  The work may still be at a very early stage of conception, or may have already undergone some research and development.
It is expected that Unlimited commission awards will range between £20,000 – £80,000 depending on scale and ambition.
The deadline for applications is 2 February 2015.
http://weareunlimited.org.uk/apply-to-unlimited/

IT Training Fund – Tech Partnership
The Tech Partnership Training Fund provides funding for employers to invest in IT training. The purpose is to stimulate increased investment in training which supports business growth and competitiveness.  This fund is available as a result of a successful bid into the government’s Employer Ownership of Skills Pilot by the Tech Partnership.  The fund supports the following:
• Enhanced Apprenticeships – additional training for IT apprentices over and above their standard programme. This could include, for example, training for industry certifications.
• Short Courses – training in strategically important skills such as cyber security, big data, mobile, cloud and e-commerce.
Businesses may apply for up to 50% of the costs of the training, up to a maximum of either £1000 per learner for enhanced apprenticeships or £500 per learner for strategic skills short courses.
http://www.thetechpartnership.com/news-tech-partnership-training-fund.html

Small Grants Scheme – Foyle Foundation
This scheme is designed to support smaller charities in the UK, especially those working at grass roots and local community level, in any field, across a wide range of activities.  Applications are welcomed from charities that have an annual turnover of less than £100,000 per annum. Larger or national charities will normally not be considered under this scheme. Nor will the Scheme generally support charities that are able consistently to generate operational surpluses or which have been able to build up unrestricted reserves to a level equivalent to three months turnover.
The Foundation plan to make one year grants of between £1,000 and £10,000 to charities which can demonstrate that such a grant will make a significant difference to their work.  Demonstrating ongoing sustainability is also important, particularly if the organisation has recently lost local authority or other regular funding. No multi-year funding awards will be made.
There are no deadlines for submission. Applications will be received at all times but it may take up to four months to reach a decision.
http://www.foylefoundation.org.uk/small-grants-scheme/

Healthy Heart Grants – Heart Research UK
Grants of up to £5000 and up to £10,000 are available across the UK for new, original and innovative projects that actively promote heart health and help to prevent, or reduce, the risk of heart disease in specific groups or communities.
There are two rounds of grants per year.  Applications to the May round must be submitted between 1 January and 28 February 2015.
http://heartresearch.org.uk/grants/apply-hruk-healthy-heart-grants

Reaching Communities England – Big Lottery
Reaching Communities funding is for projects that help people and communities most in need. Grants are available from £10,000, upwards and funding can last for up to 5 years. If you think you need more than £500,000 you must call Big Lottery before applying to discuss why you believe a larger project is appropriate. There is no upper limit for total project costs.  Reaching Communities can fund salaries, running costs, a contribution towards core costs and equipment.  Reaching Communities can also fund up to £100,000 for land, buildings or refurbishment capital costs.
All projects must address one or more of the following outcomes:
• People have better chances in life, with better access to training and development to improve their life skills,
• Stronger communities, with more active citizens, working together to tackle their problems,
• Improved rural and urban environments, which communities are better able to access and enjoy,
• Healthier and more active people and communities
There is a two stage application process.  After submitting a Reaching Communities Stage One application form, applicants will be told within 6 weeks whether the project is one that might be considered for funding. If successful, the applicant will be sent a Stage Two application form. Applicants will usually have four months to complete this.
From 15 October 2014 all stage two applicants to Reaching Communities will be offered an optional sum of money to use to develop the organisation’s knowledge, skills and confidence. Big Lottery want to support applicants to deliver their project to maximum effect. This offer is currently a trial and will initially run for two years. Full details on this offer will be supplied with stage two guidance.
http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/global-content/programmes/england/reaching-communities-England

Reaching Communities Buildings – Big Lottery
The buildings strand of Reaching Communities provides funding for land and buildings projects costing more than £100,000. It can also provide revenue funding to help to get the building running and deliver project activities (for revenue funding or funding for a land and buildings project of less than £100,000, see Reaching Communities England).
Funding is available for building grants up to 2015 and there are currently no deadlines for applications. However, the programme is regularly reviewed and applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as they are ready.  To ensure that this funding makes the biggest difference to those most in need, it is targeted at buildings or sites based in the most deprived ‘Lower Super Output Areas’ in England.
From 15 October 2014 all stage three applicants to Reaching Communities buildings will be offered an optional sum of money to use to develop the organisation’s knowledge, skills and confidence. We want to support you to deliver your project to maximum effect. This offer is currently a trial and will initially run for two years. Full details on this offer will be supplied with stage three guidance.
http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/global-content/programmes/england/reaching-communities-buildings-England

Rent to Buy scheme – Department for Communities & Local Government
Under the scheme, launched in September 2014, housing associations and other providers can bid for a share of £400 million in low-cost loans to build up to 10,000 new homes across the country to be built from 2015 to 2018 – they will mainly consist of 1 and 2 bedroom apartments.
Landlords must then make the homes available for rent at below-market rates for a minimum of 7 years. This fixed period is intended to give tenants the opportunity to save up for a deposit and get ready to buy their own home.
At the end of the period, the tenant will have first refusal to buy the property – alternatively they may choose to move out and buy a different property, or rent another property either privately or with the housing association.
If the home is sold, the housing association will then have the option to use any returns on their investment to build more affordable homes in the area. Alternatively, they will still have a home, which they can look to rent at an affordable rate to another tenant who needs help to buy.
Applications can be submitted from 29 September 2014.
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rent-to-buy-2015-to-2017-prospectus

Housing Stock Transfer Fund – Department for Communities & Local Government
Council tenants wanting more influence and control over their homes will have access to a share of £100 million to do just that, Housing Minister Kris Hopkins announced on 14 July 2014.
Since November 2013, tenants living in council housing have had a right to request that the management of their homes be transferred to a housing association – and that the council cooperate in that process.
From July, tenant groups wanting to exercise this Right to Transfer will be able to bid for a share of this £100 million fund to help that process, with the money becoming available from April 2015.
The £100 million fund is also available for councils wishing to transfer their stock, with proposals that provide good value for money and have the support of residents.
A Guidance Manual has been published which sets out how local authorities and tenant groups can apply to transfer local authority housing to a different landlord. As part of this, local authorities and tenant groups can apply for funding towards writing off debt, with up to £100 million available in 2015 to 2016.
Applications to transfer stock under the terms of this manual that seek support for overhanging debt write-off must be made on the basis that transfer will complete by 31 March 2016.
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/100-million-fund-will-put-power-in-the-hands-of-tenants

Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive – Ofgem
The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (Domestic RHI) is a government financial incentive to promote the use of renewable heat. Switching to heating systems that use naturally replenished energy can help the UK reduce its carbon emissions.  People who join the scheme and stick to its rules, receive quarterly payments for seven years for the amount of clean, green renewable heat their system produces.
The scheme is open to anyone who can meet the joining requirements. It’s for households both off and on the gas grid.  People off mains gas are stated to have the most potential to save on fuel bills and reduce carbon emissions.
The Renewable Heat Incentive has two schemes – Domestic and Non-Domestic. They have separate tariffs, joining conditions, rules and application processes.
https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/environmental-programmes/domestic-renewable-heat-incentive/about-domestic-renewable-heat-incentive

Big Potential – Big Lottery Fund
Big Potential, a BIG Lottery Fund grant fund, will deliver approximately £10m of grant funding over 3 years to eligible VCSE organisations (Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise organisations) with the aim of improving the sustainability, capacity and scale of VCSE organisations in order that they may deliver greater social impact.
The programme aims to raise awareness of the social investment market and support VCSEs who want to prepare themselves for social investment. Big Potential’s new website is now live and can be accessed here.
Eligible VCSE organisations will be able to access specialist one to one support from the Big Potential programme partners before making an application for grants between £20,000 and £75,000 to undertake more in-depth investment readiness work with one of Big Potential’s approved providers.
http://www.sibgroup.org.uk/bigpotential/

Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund – Football Foundation
The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund provides grants for building or refurbishing grassroots facilities, such as changing pavilions and playing surfaces for community benefit, with money provided by the Premier League, The FA and the Government (via Sport England) and delivered by the Foundation.  The Fund is available to football clubs, schools, councils and local sports associations and gives grants for projects that:
• Improve facilities for football and other sport in local communities.
• Sustain or increase participation amongst children and adults, regardless of background age, or ability.
• Help children and adults to develop their physical, mental, social and moral capacities through regular participation in sport.
Grants are available for between £10,000 and £500,000.
http://www.footballfoundation.org.uk/funding-schemes/premier-league-the-fa-facilities-fund/

On-Farm Anaerobic Digestion Fund – WRAP
The On-Farm Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Fund has been developed to help farmers in England get financial support to build small-scale AD plants on their farms
The fund is being delivered on behalf of the government by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). WRAP understand that the main barriers to developing AD on farms are: access to finance; availability of reference sites for technologies and case studies; demonstration of the benefits of AD; the potential high cost of technology.
To address these barriers and encourage the uptake of small-scale on-farm AD in the UK WRAP has developed a programme to help farms access finance, provide case studies and demonstration information and provide support for farmers who want to use AD on their farm.  The fund will be available to farms in England, that have access to slurries or manures; and who wish to build AD plants producing up to 250k/W of power.
The scheme is split into two parts:
• A business plant grant up to £10,000 to investigate the environmental and economic potential of building an AD plant on the farm.
• A capital loan up to £400,000 (or a maximum of 50% of the project cost). This is available for AD plants producing up to 250kW of power.
There is a rolling programme for applications.
http://www.wrap.org.uk/node/16778

Heritage Project Grants – Heritage Lottery Fund
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) funds projects which focus on heritage.  HLF offer a range of different grant programmes with grants from £3,000 to over £5million. In assessing applications, HLF take account of the broad range of outcomes for heritage, people and communities that projects will achieve.  HLF programmes include:
• Start Up Grants – grants of between £3,000-£10,000 to help create a new organisation to look after heritage or engage people with it. This grant can also support existing groups taking on new responsibilities for heritage.
• Grants for Places of Worship – historic places of worship are often at the heart of communities. Grants from £10,000–£250,000 can fund urgent structural repairs and help to make them better places for everyone to visit.
• Parks for People – for projects related to historic parks and cemeteries in the UK. You can apply for a grant from £100,000 to £5million. Applications go through a two round process and must be submitted by either 28 February for a decision in June or by 31 August for a decision in December.
• Transition Funding – available to organisations in the UK who want to achieve significant strategic change (through acquiring new skills or knowledge, or new models of governance, leadership, business and income) in order to become more resilient and sustain improved management of heritage for the long term.  To apply you must be a previous recipient of an HLF grant.  You can apply for a grant of more than £10,000 and up to £100,000.
• Heritage Enterprise – supports enterprising community organisations across the UK to rescue neglected historic buildings and sites and unlock their economic potential.  You can apply for a grant from £100,000 to £5million.
• Sharing Heritage – for any type of project related to national, regional or local heritage in the UK.  Applications can be made for a grant from £3,000 to £10,000.  The fund is available to not-for-profit organisations or partnerships led by not-for-profit organisations wanting to explore, share and celebrate their community’s heritage.  This is a rolling programme and applications can be submitted at any time.
• Our Heritage – for any type of project related to national, regional or local heritage in the UK. Applications can be made for a grant of more than £10,000 and up to £100,000.  HLF fund applications from not-for-profit organisations, private owners of heritage (including individuals and for-profit organisations) and partnerships.  This is a rolling programme and applications can be made at any time.
• Heritage Grants – HLF’s open programme for any type of project related to the national, regional, or local heritage in the UK. You can apply for a grant of over £100,000. Heritage Grants applications go through a two-round process. This is so that you can apply at an early stage of planning your project and get an idea of whether you have a good chance of getting a grant before you submit your proposals in greater detail.
• Young Roots – for projects that engage young people with heritage in the UK.  Applications can be made for a grant of more than £10,000 and up to £50,000.  Under this programme, HLF fund partnerships of heritage and youth organisations to help young people shape and deliver their own projects in safe environments.  This is a rolling programme and applications can be made at any time.
For information on all HLF programmes visit the website.
http://www.hlf.org.uk/Pages/Home.aspx

Commissioning Better Outcomes and the Social Outcomes Fund – BIG Lottery Fund and the Cabinet Office
BIG are focusing on approaches that use payment by results (PbR) mechanisms, particularly those which involve social investment such as Social Impact Bonds (SIBs).  To achieve this two funds have been set up – the Cabinet Office’s Social Outcomes Fund and the Big Lottery Fund’s Commissioning Better Outcomes – with a joint mission to support the development of more SIBs.  Between them these funds are making up to £60m available to pay for a proportion of outcomes payments for these types of models in complex policy areas, as well as support to develop robust proposals.
The shared overarching aim is to grow the market in SIBs, while each fund has a specific focus that reflects the missions of the Big Lottery Fund and Cabinet Office.  For the Big Lottery Fund, this is to enable more people, particularly those most in need, to lead fulfilling lives, in enriching places and as part of successful communities. For the Cabinet Office, this is to catalyse and test innovative approaches to tackling complex issues using outcomes based commissioning.  For more information see the website.  The deadline is 31 July 2016.
http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/global-content/programmes/england/commissioning-better-outcomes-and-social-outcomes-fund

Grants for the arts Libraries Fund – Arts Council
The Grants for the arts Libraries fund will invest £6 million of the Arts Council’s Grants for the arts National Lottery money in projects delivered by public libraries or library authorities working in partnership with cultural organisations across all art forms.
It is hoped that the Grants for the arts Libraries fund will inspire ambitious, innovative partnerships between libraries and arts organisations, and encourage library users and those living locally to take part in artistic and cultural activities.
Public libraries can apply for grants of between £1,000 and £100,000 covering activities lasting up to three years. The fund opened to applications on 27 September 2012 and will run until March 2015
From 1 July 2013 the application and assessment process for Grants for the arts changed in order to help streamline the investment process.
http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding/apply-for-funding/grants-arts-libraries-fund/

Local government finance settlement 2015 to 2016 – Department for Communities & Local Government consultation
This consultation seeks views on proposals for the local government finance settlement for 2015 to 2016, including funding for rural local authorities.
This consultation closes on 15 January 2015.
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/local-government-finance-settlement-2015-to-2016

Stepping onto the property ladder – Department for Communities & Local Government consultation
The government has stated it is determined that more people have the opportunity to buy their own home, and is keen to ensure first time buyers find it easier to take their first steps onto the property ladder.
The Prime Minister announced the Starter Homes scheme to do more to help first time buyers. This reform is intended to free up the planning system to help to provide more low cost, high quality starter homes for first time buyers – without burdening the tax payer.
The government sees this as an ambitious package which it cannot provide alone. The government states that it needs to work closely with developers, local authorities and land owners to enable 100,000 starter homes to be built over the next 5 years so that more young people can buy their own home. This consultation sets out the government’s Starter Homes proposals and seeks views about the proposed planning policy change and its implementation.
This consultation closes on 9 February 2015.
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/stepping-onto-the-property-ladder

Planning application process: statutory consultee arrangements – Department for Communities & Local Government, Defra and Environment Agency consultation
This consultation seeks views on measures aimed at ensuring more effective provision of advice to local planning authorities in relation to surface water drainage management.   Statutory consultees are those organisations and bodies, defined by statute, which local planning authorities are legally required to consult before reaching a decision on relevant planning applications.
Part A: proposal to introduce the Lead Local Flood Authority as a statutory consultee on major planning applications with surface water drainage implications to ensure technical advice is available to local planning authorities.
Part B: proposal to change the thresholds for the Environment Agency’s statutory consultee involvement in a planning application to achieve a more proportionate approach in light of changing responsibilities.
Part C: proposal to make water companies statutory consultees in respect to planning applications for shale oil and gas development.
This consultation closes on 29 January 2015.
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-application-process-statutory-consultee-arrangements

Improving local air quality management in England – Defra consultation
The government are seeking views about proposed changes to regulations for the Local Air Quality Management system (LAQM), reducing burdens for local authorities.  Changes are also proposed to the guidance and reporting requirements.
All local authorities must regularly review and assess air quality in their areas for several pollutants of particular concern for human health. If an objective will not be achieved by the required date, the authority concerned must declare an Air Quality Management Area. It must also produce an action plan setting out how it intends to deal with the issues identified.
The government states that this consultation is part of an ongoing review of LAQM. It follows on from the 2013 consultation, further discussion with stakeholders and a subsequent stakeholder workshop held in September 2014.
This consultation closes on 30 January 2015.
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/improving-local-air-quality-management-in-England

Parish Polls – Department for Communities & Local Government consultation
A parish poll allows for a ballot of local government electors in the parish to be called on any question arising at a parish meeting.
The consultation seeks the views of the public, local authorities and the parish sector on:
• the trigger (the number or proportion of electors required to demand a poll)
• the voting arrangements for parish polls
• the questions on which a poll can be held
• consequential related matters
This consultation closes on 30 January 2015.
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/parish-polls

Lotteries – Call for Evidence from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport
It has now been nearly a decade since the introduction of the Gambling Act 2005 which governs society lotteries. In that time, and in recent years particularly, there have been rapid developments in the lottery and commercial gambling sector. Strong growth in society lotteries, a trend to online gaming and innovations in products and marketing have seen, arguably, a convergence in the market; the evidence available would suggest the characteristics that once made The National Lottery, society lotteries and the commercial gambling sector distinct, are now less clear.
The Government states that it is committed to ensuring that all lotteries are able to maintain and grow their share of the market for good causes while upholding player protection. They also state their commitment to maintaining the health of the National Lottery. The government is now calling for evidence to help look more closely at the current position and consider if changes are required in light of that evidence.
Submissions are invited from across the sectors, from The National Lottery, society lotteries, commercial operators, players and other interested parties.
This consultation closes on 4 March 2015.
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/lotteries-call-for-evidence

Working together to safeguard children: revisions – Department for Education consultation
The Department for Education (DfE) invites views on changes to the statutory guidance ‘Working together to safeguard children’. The revisions include 3 major changes and some small updates and clarifications.
This consultation closes on 3 February 2015.
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/working-together-to-safeguard-children-revisions

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