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SSE Clyde (Dumfries and Galloway) Community Fund

01 January 2014

Where: Twelve community council areas within Dumfries and Galloway 
Value: Base value of £140,000 per annum (RPI indexed) 
Date established: 2012
Administration:. Foundation Scotland administers the Fund including assessing applications. 
Governance: A community panel comprised of local community councillors makes decisions on awards. 
Website: www.foundationscotland.org.uk/clyde

Establishing the Fund
The area of benefit was determined by SSE and included 12 community councils of varying sizes, capacity and needs. Consensus on the way forward was achieved through a series of meetings facilitated by Foundation Scotland and with different communities represented at each. The arrangement established the Fund as a single, joint fund across the entire area but with each community council area guaranteed an equal distribution of funds for the first three years of the Fund’s operation after which this arrangement would be reassessed. Foundation Scotland has a Memorandum of Understanding with each participating community council, detailing operational procedures such as establishing the Panel, the Secretariat, Foundation Scotland’s role as the Fund Administrator, reporting, costs, complaints & termination. In its role as Fund Administrator, Foundation Scotland prepared the guidelines and fund documentation and provided some induction for the Panel around the various procedures for setting up and running a grants programme. Foundation Scotland monitors the spend within each area to ensure the equitable distribution during this initial period. 

Accountability 
The Panel comprises community council representatives from across all the participating communities. Since the process of determining the Fund arrangement and distribution was quite involved, the negotiating representatives considered it important to sustain a level of consistency in the Fund’s initial years. They therefore maintained involvement as their community council Panel representative or ensured the involvement of another fellow community councillor who had sufficient understanding of the Fund’s development phase.

The Panel meets up to four times a year to review assessment reports produced by Foundation Scotland who process all grant applications. Decisions are made based on availability of funds for each area and the fit with the broad fund purpose.

A webpage with all the information is on the Foundation Scotland website. Each community council also provides information to the local communities through local websites, newsletters, local newspapers and posters on notice boards.

Determining fund purposes and criteria
Foundation Scotland encouraged the Panel to adopt broad, fairly standard criteria for the Fund that would enable as wide and diverse a range of community organisations as possible to access the Fund. It remains to be seen whether the Fund purpose and criteria will get refined. The Developer provided general guidelines on the types of projects that the Fund should not support. 

How does the community access the Fund?
The Fund is managed by Foundation Scotland. The Foundation receives and processes applications that are then assessed by the Panel on what is emerging to be broadly quarterly. Three separate grant application forms are provided for small grants up to £3,000, for medium grants between £3,000 and £12,000 and large grants over £12,000. Foundation Scotland undertakes an independent assessment of the applications prior to the panel reviewing them to ensure all the information is correct and complete.

In addition, a small proportion of the Fund is distributed in the form of ‘micro’ grants of up to £250 each through a scheme administered by each Community Councils. These micro grants are available directly from the local Community Council who will consider and award these smaller grants directly.

Management and Administration 
Foundation Scotland provide administration for the management of the funds including monitoring and evaluation of the outcomes. Panel members feel that the Panel was well set up in the beginning and has been given good support. A local business operates as the Fund Secretariat , ensuring meetings are scheduled and arranged and Panel papers are distributed as well as meetings minuted.

Achieving Impact 
Each community council considers the assessment reports of projects in its area but has access to the full range of assessment reports. These contrasting examples illustrate how funds have been used differently to address opportunity and need in contrasting communities:

Moffat as one of the larger community councils finds the funds are oversubscribed. The community council has decided to try spread the impact of the wind farm funds as far as possible in the first three years supporting a wide range of local groups including football teams, upgrading the kitchen for the town hall which the community now manages through the Moffat Town Hall Development Trust. 

Wanlockhead, a small village has taken the approach of improving the information channels within the community as their first steps. Noticeboards have been erected and a community newsletter has been established with the funds. The aim is to make people aware of the wind farm along with keeping people informed of what the local group is doing. The village has started to investigate longer term projects to support two areas. The first will be to support improvements within the village in general. The second is that given the village is the highest in Scotland the energy bills are large due to the amount of snow the area gets each year. It is still early in the very early stages of discussions, but options are being considered to establish a renewable energy source that will be owned by the community with the aim of being able to reduce local energy costs. Additional funds will need to be sourced however the wind farm funds are valuable as a funding source to develop the feasibility studies and prepare the costing that would be needed before going to larger funding bodies.

The Nith Vally Leaf Trust which is the local representative body for Closeburn has taken a different approach to the use of the funds. The community supported the re-roofing of the community hall (which is owned by the local community) and improvements to a war memorial in the field behind the school including new plaques and trees. Since then the community decided to invest the funds for the coming two years to support the purchase of an affordable low cost house. The wind farm funds have assisted to reduce the mortgage that is required for the house. The community felt that it was important to support a local family to be able to stay in the area and the opportunity to purchase the house at a discount from a local housing development was a durable option and which would provide long term benefit for the community.

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